How to Prepare for a Kids Tooth Extraction

Tooth extraction is a very common dental procedure, even for children. There are many reasons your child might need to have a tooth removed, for example extracting baby teeth to make room for permanent teeth.

It probably seems like a scary procedure, but dentists perform tooth extractions for kids all the time and can do so safely and with minimal pain. Knowing how to prepare your child for a tooth extraction will help alleviate their fear and lead to a quick, simple extraction.

When Does a Child Need a Tooth Extraction?

Your child’s dentist will talk to you about the option to extract a tooth and why it might be necessary. There are several reasons to consider removing a baby tooth:

 A girl lays back in a dental chair as a dentist examines her mouth.

  • The teeth are overcrowded and there is potential for later orthodontic issues
  • A tooth is damaged or broken beyond easy repair
  • Dental caries have caused significant tooth decay
  • The baby tooth is not falling out on its own
  • Gum disease has caused infection, pain, and swelling

According to a study of pediatric dental extractions, the primary reason to remove a child’s tooth is the presence of dental caries. This is followed by orthodontic reasons, to make space or to prevent or correct issues like malocclusion. The third leading reason is over-retention. The baby tooth has remained in place too long.

About Pediatric Tooth Extraction

As a parent, you probably want to know what happens when a dentist performs a pediatric dental extraction. Your child may not need or want to know all the details, but this information can put parents at ease. Pediatric tooth removal is much easier and less involved than most people realize. Share with your child as much information as you believe will help make them comfortable with the procedure.

It is simpler to remove a baby tooth because it has shorter roots and is supposed to come out anyway. The healing time is faster, and there is less pain involved than the extraction of an adult tooth.

The first step in the process is to X-ray your child’s mouth to make the best plan for removal. Your dentist will talk to you about any special needs your child has, medications, and medical conditions. This helps them plan the best approach to a safe extraction with minimal fear and stress.

The actual procedure is quick and simple for most patients. The child will receive a local anesthetic in the area around the tooth to be extracted. If necessary, they will also get nitrous oxide to help them relax and stay calm for the extraction. The dentist will remove the tooth and then pack the area with gauze to promote blood clotting and quick healing.

How to Prepare a Child for a Tooth Extraction

If your child is worried about the procedure, talk to them about what will happen with as much detail as you think is appropriate. Knowing what to expect removes fear for many children. You can also explain to them why the procedure is necessary.

Highlight the positives. For instance, if the tooth is causing pain, explain that they’ll soon be pain-free thanks to the procedure. We find that most of our pediatric patients enjoy coming in because we make it such a fun experience. Talk about everything they love about the practice to remind them of past positive experiences. If your child is still nervous, let them bring in a favorite comforting stuffed toy.

Does Getting a Baby Tooth Extraction Hurt?

With a child tooth extraction, a local anesthetic is often adequate. With this, and potentially nitrous oxide, your child will only feel a little tugging and pressure. Some pain after the procedure is normal, but studies have shown that giving a child a pain reliever in advance of the removal doesn’t help. Follow your dentist’s instructions on managing pain after the procedure.

Child Tooth Extraction Recovery

Recovery time is quick for most simple extractions. Your child might have some swelling and pain, but it won’t last long. Use an ice pack applied to the cheek to reduce these symptoms and for quick relief. Wrap an ice pack in a soft towel and apply it for no more than ten minutes at a time.

A young boy sits in a dental exam chair with a stuffed dragon toy.

You can also use any prescribed or recommended over-the-counter painkillers to help them feel better. If your dentist prescribed an antibiotic, make sure your child takes the full course, even after their symptoms have cleared.

Don’t let your child use a straw for the first 24 hours after the extraction. Provide them with soft foods and plenty of water, and brush and floss around the extraction site. Prop your child’s head up with pillows for naps and at bedtime and make sure they have plenty of downtime for a day or two after the procedure.

Complications are possible but unlikely after a pediatric extraction. Contact your dentist if the swelling and pain don’t recede after a couple of days or if the extraction site bleeds longer than about 12 hours. Watch for signs of infection, including a fever or chills.

Getting a tooth removed can be frightening at any age. Whether it’s a pediatric tooth extraction for a 4-year-old, 5-year-old, or 7-year-old child, our dental team knows how to make each patient feel safe and comfortable. Find out just how different the experience is for kids at Newtown Dentistry. Reach out today to request an appointment and meet our pediatric dentist.

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