It’s always best if we can save your child’s natural tooth, but there are times when there is no other option than to perform a tooth extraction. Even kids who love visiting the dentist are likely to feel nervous about an extraction, so it’s important to prepare your child so they know exactly what to expect.
What Happens During a Tooth Extraction
Whether it’s a primary tooth or a permanent tooth, the extraction process begins by numbing the area with an injection of local anesthesia. This ensures that your child will feel no pain while we work, although they will feel some pressure, pulling, and movement.
Next, a tool called an elevator is used to gently rock and loosen the tooth from the jaw. Once Dr. McGuire has loosened the tooth, she will use forceps to remove it. Occasionally, sutures may be needed if a permanent tooth or molar is being removed. We’ll provide your child with a small piece of gauze and ask them to bite down, which slows the bleeding and helps promote the formation of a clot. The blood clot is a good thing, as it protects the area while the bone and soft tissue heal.
Choosing Sedation Dentistry
Your child may benefit from being sedated during their tooth extraction. We offer nitrous oxide sedation, which is safe and mild, with little risk of side effects or complications. With nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, your child will be fully awake and aware during their appointment, but they will feel deeply relaxed. An older child may not need sedation, but we recommend it for children who are nervous or upset about needing to have their tooth removed.
Talking to Your Child About Their Tooth Extraction
We encourage you to be honest, but age-appropriate, with your child when talking to them about what will happen during their tooth extraction appointment. It’s better for a child to come to our office knowing what’s about to occur than being completely blind-sided.
Reassure your child that they won’t feel any pain while Dr. McGuire works. If they’ll be getting nitrous oxide, you may wish to explain to them that it will be delivered through a small mask that fits over their nose, and that it might make them feel funny or even silly. Once Dr. McGuire pulls out the tooth, they’ll have to help her by biting down on gauze; there might be some blood, but it’s not anything to worry about.
In addition to preparing your child for the procedure, you’ll want to prepare them for what happens afterwards. Will they be staying home from school the rest of the day? Will you let them have extra screen time as they recover, or maybe ice cream for dinner? As an adult, it might not seem like a big deal, but some kids get so excited about ice cream, pudding, and Jello after their extraction that they forget to worry about the extraction itself!
Also be sure to talk to your child about the benefits of having their tooth extracted (other than the ice cream dinners!). If they have toothaches, remind them that they won’t be uncomfortable anymore and they’ll be able to eat all of their favorite foods again once they heal. Explain how removing the tooth will improve their oral health, and don’t forget to mention that the tooth fairy pays extra for teeth that the dentist had to extract!