Tooth Extraction in Children
Tooth extractions involve taking a tooth out to relieve crowding or treat severe decay. In some cases, a pediatric dentist might extract a badly cracked or damaged tooth that cannot be repaired. Having a tooth removed can make children nervous, but having a parent explain what this procedure is and why it’s being done can help keep them calm.
Reasons for Tooth Extractions in Children
There are a few different reasons that a dentist might recommend having a child’s tooth removed. These include the following:
- Severe tooth decay: Dentists usually try to treat decay by doing fillings or performing a root canal. When decay is so severe that a root canal cannot be done, dentists typically remove the entire tooth to prevent further problems, such as infections.
- Serious damage: A pediatric dentist might decide to extract a tooth that has suffered serious injury, such as a fracture or crack that cannot be fixed. Removing the tooth helps reduce the risk of complications, including infections.
- Overcrowded teeth: Having teeth that are crowded makes it harder for kids to keep them clean. Overcrowding can also cause other problems, such as trouble biting or chewing. A pediatric dentist might opt to remove one or more teeth to create additional space.
How Tooth Extractions Are Done
Dentists first take X-rays to assess the tooth’s condition before determining whether or not to do an extraction. If the affected tooth needs to be removed, dentists typically use local anesthesia to numb the area. This anesthesia causes children to feel pressure on the affected area, rather than pain. Once the area is numbed, the tooth is moved around until it separates from the ligament. If any gum tissue needs to be removed in order to perform the extraction, dentists sometimes administer nitrous oxide or general anesthesia.
Before and After Tooth Extractions
Dentists sometimes give children antibiotics before and after extractions to reduce the risk of infection. After the procedure is done, children can expect to have some soreness and possible swelling, which can be reduced with an ice pack. Children can only have soft foods for a full day after the extraction and must rinse their mouth with salt water. It’s important for children not to use a straw or do any spitting while recovering, since this can dislodge the blood clot at the extraction site. If this happens, children have a higher risk of infection and might experience severe pain.
Regular dental checkups can help prevent severe tooth decay, which helps reduce your child’s chance of needing a tooth extraction. A pediatric dentist can also look for potential problems with your child’s teeth, such as overcrowding, and begin treatment as soon as possible.