A tooth extraction is a procedure where the tooth is removed completely from the bone socket beneath. There are a number of different reasons why a tooth might need to be extracted, including as a result of tooth decay, in conjunction with another orthodontics treatment, or because of the growth of problematic wisdom teeth. For some children – and even parents of young children – a tooth extraction can seem like a scary procedure, particularly if you don’t know what to expect.
To ease your worry, it is important to educate both yourself and your child to relieve some anxiety around the entire tooth extraction experience.
What to expect
During your first appointment, an x-ray will be taken of the area to assess the severity of damage to the tooth to see if it is in need of a tooth extraction. If your dentist has determined that your child’s tooth is beyond repair and needs to be removed, another appointment for the tooth extraction will be scheduled.
Before the procedure:
On the day of your child’s tooth extraction, an antibiotic may be prescribed to get rid of any infection that might have caused damage to the tooth to begin with. Even though the tooth will be removed, it is important to treat this infection before the extraction to prevent the spread of the infection to surrounding teeth.
If needed, an anti-anxiety medication may be taken on the night before the tooth extraction, and an additional pill can be taken before the procedure for children who are extremely nervous about it.
Before the tooth is extracted, the site around the tooth will be numbed with a local anesthetic like Novocain. This numbing should help put your child at ease and make sure they feel no pain during the procedure. Once the area is completely numbed, your dentist will wiggle the tooth out of its socket using dental forceps.
If the tooth is located beneath the surface of the gum line, your dentist may need to also remove some gum tissue to get to the tooth. In this case, your child might receive a stronger sedative before the extraction, such as nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas”, to relax your them during the procedure.
Care after the procedure:
After the tooth extraction is complete, your child will need to bite on a gauze pad until a blood clot forms around the site to stem the bleeding. Once the clot has formed, it is important not to dislodge it, as it can expose the bone, causing dry socket.
If any pain or swelling is experienced after the Novocain wears off, an ice pack can be applied to the area, and an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory, such as Ibuprofen, may be used. Your child will only be able to eat soft foods for 24 hours after the extraction and is discouraged from drinking from straws or spitting forcefully. After each meal, your child should rinse his or her mouth with saltwater. If stiches were placed after the extraction, they will dissolve within a couple weeks.