Simple extractions are performed on teeth that can be seen in the mouth. They are removed due to decay or injury and are usually performed under a local anesthetic. During this procedure, the doctor will grasp the tooth with forceps and loosen it by moving the forceps back and forth. The loosened tooth will then easily come out.
Surgical extractions are performed on teeth that have broken off at the gum line or that have not yet come in (ie: wisdom teeth). To remove the tooth, the doctor will have to cut and pull back the gums, which allows access to the area. This is necessary so that they can see the tooth that needs to be removed. Surgical extractions are usually done with local anesthesia but a general anesthesia is sometimes preferred.