Removing a tooth is not the brute force that is the common perception. Extracting teeth actually requires a lot of finesse. There is a small space between the tooth and the bone. This is where the periodontal ligament resides. This ligament is what holds teeth in. Teeth are not set rigidly in concrete. If you’ve ever looked in the mirror and tried to wiggle your teeth with your fingernails, then you’ve probably noticed that the tooth will move slightly. This allows the force of the bite to be buffered before it gets transmitted to the bone. The trick to extracting a tooth is to break the periodontal ligament. Pressure is applied slowly until the microscopic fibrils of the ligament begin to snap. If the pressure is applied too fast, then the tooth will usually break apart in a very inopportune place.
The pressure to extract a tooth can be applied by a variety of instruments; the most common being the forceps. Forceps look like common household pliers only with very specialized beaks. Other instruments called elevators are commonly used. Elevators resemble a screwdriver, except that is is curved to match the contours of a tooth. An elevator is placed between the teeth and gently rotated until the tooth raises from it’s socket. This way, teeth can be removed in a very comfortable manner.