Pediatric tooth extractions are required when a child's tooth becomes damaged from an injury, disease or severe tooth decay, or if the tooth is causing orthodontic issues.
Pediatric Tooth Extraction
Removal of primary (baby) teeth is a common dental procedure for children. Baby teeth are important for the oral health of children, but sometimes removal is the best option to help a child’s growing mouth, jaw, and teeth. Tooth extraction is typically a very fast process—we will use anesthesia to ensure your child is comfortable.
The most critical part of the process is recovery. Your child should bite on a gauze pad for the first two hours after their appointment to form a blog clot in the extraction socket. Your child should not chew on the gauze or spit it out to help ensure that bleeding is controlled and stopped and that proper healing can begin. To manage the swelling, we recommend an ice pack on the outer cheek, and once the swelling has gone down, a warm compress to the same area for comfort. Gentle rinses with warm salt water also help keep the extraction area clean.
Why would my child need a tooth extraction?
There are a variety of reasons children need a tooth (or teeth) extracted. Common reasons for removing a baby tooth, include:
- Tooth Decay. Children are more prone to cavities and tooth decay because baby teeth have a thinner layer of enamel than permanent teeth. If tooth decay in baby teeth is left untreated, it can lead to more-serious issues such as infection or affecting permanent teeth.
- Over-Retained Baby Teeth. If one or more of your child’s baby teeth haven’t shed (fallen out) when they should or if their permanent teeth are growing in / above the baby teeth, a tooth extraction will likely be required.
- Orthodontic Issues. If there is crowding or spacing issues with your child’s teeth, tooth extraction may be recommended.
What are the steps of a pediatric tooth extraction?
If your child is having a tooth removed, below are the steps that will be involved in the process:
- Take X-Rays. Before the procedure, we will take an x-ray of their mouth to examine the position of the teeth, roots, and surrounding bone structure.
- Administer Local Anesthesia. Most pediatric tooth extractions are performed using local anesthesia (i.e., numbing of the removal area, while the child remains conscious). Numbness will last for a few hours after the appointment is complete.
- Tooth / Teeth Removal. Our doctors will safely remove the tooth, then examine the bone structure around the tooth to ensure it is not damaged.
- Stitches. Occasionally, stitches are placed after the extraction; they generally fall out on their own in three to five days. They are typically white and sometimes thought to be tooth fragments or food. If there are any questions about your child’s stitches, contact our office at (615) 855-3088.
- Space Maintainer. If a primary molar is removed and there isn’t a sufficient amount of space for the permanent tooth, a space maintainer is placed to ensure your child’s adult teeth grow in correctly.
What will help my child with tooth extraction recovery?
Children who have had one or more teeth extracted might have some swelling, bleeding, and discomfort for a few days after. Follow these tips to help your child in the meantime:
- Pain Management. Your child can take an over-the-counter medication, as instructed by your pediatric dentist. If their pain does not subside or gets worse after three to five days, contact our office.
- Bleeding. Children should bite on a gauze pad for at least two hours after the procedure. If bleeding persists after that, you can place a freshly moistened gauze pack, folded into a two-inch square, on the wound and have your child bite on it for 30 minutes. Some blood in their saliva is normal for the day or two after the procedure.
- Swelling. Swelling is normal after the procedure and may increase for up to three days after. To minimize swelling, apply ice packs to their face, alternating on and off, 20 minutes at a time. This also helps relieve jaw stiffness and soreness.
- Food. Nutrition and hydration are important for healing. Two hours after the procedure, your child can have liquids such as water, clear juices, or Gatorade. After that their diet can be advanced to soft foods such as Jell-O, yogurt, or applesauce. Do not let children consume hot drinks / soups or drink through a straw for the first 24 hours.
If you have more questions about pediatric tooth extractions, please contact our office and we will be happy to discuss further. You can also request an appointment or see the other services we provide using the links below.