A tooth extraction is a dental procedure that involves removing a tooth from the bone socket. For a child, this can be a scary procedure since he does not know what to expect and will often worry that the procedure will hurt. By educating your child, you may relieve some anxiety surrounding the experience.
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A dentist will extract your child’s tooth if the tooth is decayed to the point where a root canal is not an option. A tooth may also be extracted if the tooth is fractured beyond repair, or the mouth is overcrowded with teeth. If your child is getting braces, a dentist or orthodontist may decide to extract one or more teeth to make room for shifting teeth.
An x-ray uses radiation to take an internal photograph of the tooth and its root. The x-ray allows the dentist to determine the severity of the tooth’s damage. If the tooth cannot be repaired, a new appointment will be made for the tooth extraction. According to Colgate, an antibiotic may be given before, as well as after, the procedure. This takes care of any possible infection that has been caused by the damaged tooth. Treating the infection before the extraction reduces the risk of the infection spreading.
If your child is uncomfortably nervous about the procedure, speak to your doctor about anti-anxiety medication, which is typically taken at bedtime, the night before the extraction. Your child may also be given an additional pill to bring with him to the procedure.
The procedure used will depend on the type of extraction. A simple extraction is performed when a visible tooth is removed. The dentist will inject the area with a numbing local anesthetic like Novocain, which will cause your child to feel pressure instead of pain during the extraction. The dentist will then rock the tooth back and forth with forceps until the tooth is loose enough to break from its ligament.
If the tooth is impacted, the dentist will need to remove gum tissue to see the tooth being extracted. In this case, the dentist may give your child nitrous oxide, also called laughing gas, to relax him, or give him a stronger sedation through an IV. You should discuss the types of anesthesia available with the dentist prior to the day of the procedure, so you know the options and can better prepare your child. According to Dentistry.com, your child should wear short sleeves if he is sedated, so that the oral surgeon will have easy access to insert the IV.
According to Aurora Health Care, the dentist will have your child bite firmly on gauze until the bleeding stops, and if the bleeding is excessive, the gauze will need to be changed every 20 to 30 minutes until a blood clot forms. The jaw will be slightly painful, and the dentist will usually prescribe a pain killer. In some cases, the dentist may only recommend an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen. If your child’s face is swollen, ice can reduce the swelling.
Serve only soft foods during the first 24 hours following an extraction. Foods like Jello and applesauce are acceptable and will cause minimal, if any, discomfort. After your child eats, have him rinse with salt water, but be sure he does not forcefully spit. If there are stitches, these will dissolve on their own within two weeks.
It’s important that your child does not disturb the blood clot that forms after the tooth extraction. If the blood clot is dislodged, the bone is exposed to air causing a painful complication called dry socket. To avoid dry socket, do not allow your child to drink from a straw or spit while the area is healing. Although she needs to continue brushing her teeth and flossing, be sure she is not brushing directly on the extraction site. If pain becomes severe or your child develops a fever, chills, or increased swelling, seek medical attention.