Usually pulling a tooth is a dentist's area of expertise, but when speaking of self-extraction, it takes a different type of expert to offer words of wisdom. What you need is a West Virginian, and fortunately you've found one. All kidding aside, self-extraction is ridiculous (in most cases), and before I give my home state another black eye and alienate all of my friends, I would like to say a few serious words on the subject: Don't do it! While surfing the web for a little bit of advice on this topic, I found a nice little article by Mr. Nicholas Tan (www.thefreelibrary.com/dental+care+pulling+your+own+teeth, and I would like to begin by quoting him on the subject matter:
"In the old days, teeth were extracted by pliers, as there were no dentists around. During these times, people would get drunk on alcohol and then the teeth would be extracted. There was no such thing as anesthesia back then, so it was impossible to locally numb the pain."
Let's do a bit of explication. These aren't the old days; we're in the twenty-first century, and virtually nobody lives more than a few miles from a dentist. Furthermore, that says nothing about using alcohol as an anesthetic! Personally, if some drunk (myself in particular) is going to fool around inside of my mouth, I would prefer that he has a specific license to do so. Mr. Tan is very much anti-self- extraction, but he is one of the few people I found who thinks that it is feasible on rare occasions, and these are the removal of baby teeth and a loose tooth caused by extreme gum disease.
If a baby tooth becomes so loose as to become a possible choking hazard, it is perfectly okay to remove it. Jiggling, jerking, and prodding, however, are not part of the procedure. It's also important to remember that the extractor is dealing with a child, and all anestheics are strictly a no-no. The adult should thoroughly wash his or her hands and do the reaching with a clean piece of gauze or a cotton ball. However, there is a form of baby tooth extraction that should be off limits: as a child, I can remember being in a bit too big of a hurry for the Tooth Fairy's arrival, and some of my underqualified adult friends would often get involved. You guessed it! I mean tying a string to the tooth and a door knob and subsequently slamming the door. I have always truly admired my father (God rest his soul), but he was a practitioner of this neanderthal dentistry, and it's still going on today. This goes out to parents, grandparents, and babysitters everywhere: this is stupid! Leave it alone.
In regard to loose teeth caused by gum disease, once again a dentist should be consulted. However, if the tooth is practically falling out on its own and easily pulls out in one's fingertips, so be it. Teeth are very sensitive, and when they are that far gone they're also very brittle. Trust me on this one: not just anything lying in the bottom of a tool box qualifies as a dental instrument, and breaking the tooth could lead to another set of problems. Once again, Mr. Nicholas Tan puts it quite nicely: "Putting pliers in your mouth can also lead to an infection, which WOULD send you to the dentist." Okay, I capitalized "would" for a bit more emphasis, but you get the picture.
Essentially, there isn't a proper time and place for oral self-mutilation, no matter what the scenario. For example, one of the hands on an episode of "Deadliest Catch" performed oral surgery upon himself, and the Captain said (I paraphrase), "A man isn't a man until he's pulled one of his own teeth!" What? In truth, a moron isn't a moron until he has pulled one of his own teeth. Anyone on a camping trip in the wilderness who has this problem should retrace his own steps back to the car and drive to the nearest dentist. I could sit here all day and try to come up with the perfect situation for self-dentistry, but it isn't going to happen. Any book on pulling one's own teeth should be "tabula rosa," but there should be one piece of advice in the blurb: Go to a dentist, even if it's Doc Holliday!