Regardless of the patient's age, hearing the phrase “tooth extraction” causes anxiety.
For children, the anxiety is often heightened for both the child and the parents. However, with the right preparation, you can ease your worries and know what to expect.
What is a Tooth Extraction?
A tooth extraction is a dental procedure in which a tooth is removed from its socket in the jawbone. Tooth extractions are usually performed as a last resort when other dental treatments, such as fillings, root canals or crowns, are impossible or ineffective or in cases of a dental abscess or infection when associated with primary teeth.
There are two types of tooth extractions:
Simple extraction: This is a relatively straightforward procedure in which a dentist or oral surgeon loosens the tooth with a tool called an elevator and then removes it with forceps.
Surgical extraction: This is a more complex procedure that is usually performed if a tooth has broken off at the gum line, is impacted (trapped beneath the gum line), or is difficult to remove.
In case of a primary tooth extraction (posterior), usually a space maintainer is placed in order to preserve the space for the permanent tooth to grow. Space maintainers are not needed after anterior primary teeth extractions. In some cases, a permanent tooth extraction may be followed by a dental implant or other tooth replacement procedure to restore the function and appearance of the missing tooth.
How Tooth Extractions Work
The process of a tooth extraction depends on the type of extraction being performed, whether it is a simple extraction or a surgical extraction. Here is a general overview of how a tooth extraction works:
Anesthesia: The dentist or oral surgeon will begin by administering local anesthesia to numb the area around the tooth that is to be extracted. Sometimes, sedation may also be used to help the patient relax during the procedure.
Loosening the tooth: If it is a simple extraction, the dentist will use a tool called an elevator to loosen the tooth in its socket. If it is a surgical extraction, the dentist may need to make an incision in the gum tissue to access the tooth.
Removing the tooth: Once the tooth is loosened, the dentist or oral surgeon will use forceps to grasp the tooth and remove it from the socket. In some cases, the tooth may need to be divided into pieces before it can be removed.
Post-extraction care: After the tooth has been removed, the dentist or oral surgeon will provide instructions on how to care for the extraction site to promote healing and prevent infection. This may include biting down on a piece of gauze to control bleeding, applying ice to the outside of the face to reduce swelling, and avoiding certain foods and activities that could disrupt the healing process.
After a tooth extraction, the patient may experience some discomfort, swelling, and bleeding at the extraction site. Pain medication and other treatments may be recommended to manage these symptoms and promote healing. It is important to follow the dentist's instructions carefully and attend any follow-up appointments to ensure proper healing and prevent complications.
Tips for Preparing Your Child for a Tooth Extraction
A tooth extraction can be a scary and stressful experience for a child, but there are several things parents can do to help prepare their child and make the process as smooth as possible. Here are some tips for preparing your child for a tooth extraction:
Explain the process: It is important to explain the tooth extraction process to your child in a way that they can understand.
Be honest: Be honest with your child about what to expect during and after the tooth extraction. Use simple and clear language (e.g. sleepy juice or medicine, wiggling teeth, sending them to tooth fairy, etc), and avoid using scary or intimidating words (e.g. needles, shots, extraction, pain, etc.) that may cause unnecessary anxiety.
Reassure your child: Let your child know that you will be there for them during the procedure and that they are not alone. Hold their hand or sit with them during the procedure to provide comfort and support.
Answer questions: Encourage your child to ask questions about the tooth extraction and be prepared to answer them as honestly and clearly as possible. This can help alleviate fears and anxieties and give your child a sense of control over the situation.
Plan ahead: Make sure to plan ahead for the day of the tooth extraction, including scheduling enough time for the procedure, bringing any necessary paperwork, and having a plan for transportation to and from the dental office.
Provide distractions: Bring a favorite toy, book, music, headsets or game to help distract your child and keep them occupied before and after the tooth extraction.
By following these tips, parents can help their child feel more prepared and less anxious about a tooth extraction. Remember to be patient and supportive, and to seek help from a dental professional if you have any concerns or questions about the procedure.
Restorative Dentistry for Children in Gaithersburg, MD
At Dream Smiles Pediatric Dentistry of Gaithersburg, we’re dedicated to providing your child with the best care and ensuring that both the child and parents are comfortable before performing a tooth extraction.