What You Should Know About the Tooth Extraction Procedure

Learn about your child's tooth extraction procedure.

Why Children Sometimes Require Tooth Extraction 

We understand that the idea of tooth extraction isn’t much fun. When it comes to your kids getting a tooth pulled, the entire notion can become that much more alarming. But the truth is that today’s extractions aren’t nearly as complicated as they once were. And with modern dental technology, conscious sedation, and the best dentist administering the dental procedure, tooth extraction for kids can be a far easier process than you might think.

In most situations, kids will lose their first teeth during their early elementary school years. Baby teeth won’t loosen until their permanent tooth underneath pushes through the gums. But occasionally, those permanent teeth don’t erupt as they should. For example, there may be an infection under the tooth, commonly referred to as a dental abscess. Or your child may have a cavity that is so large that there isn’t adequate healthy tooth structure left for a filling or crown needed to prepare for orthodontic treatment.

The most common reasons for tooth extractions in kids are:

  • Extreme tooth decay that can’t be corrected with a filling or root canal.
  • Tooth overcrowding in the mouth that could create issues as your child’s jaw develops.
  • A broken or fractured tooth that can’t be repaired.
  • To prepare for orthodontic treatment.

Common Types of Tooth Extractions 

When Dr. Cooper or Dr. Day at Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry wiggle out a tooth, they use the simple extraction technique. And for more stubborn teeth, they may use the surgical extraction technique. Here’s what parents should know about these two types of extractions.

Simple Extraction 

Dr. Cooper and Dr. Day use the simple tooth extraction technique for children who have a tooth visible above the gumline that needs to be removed. The tooth can be removed quite easily using the “wiggle technique” and the tissue surrounding the tooth will be numbed in advance of the procedure. With the local anesthetic, the entire simple tooth extraction process is a positive and comfortable dental experience.

Throughout our years of experience, we have learned that when kids hear that their tooth needs to be wiggled out, they find it far less daunting than if they are told they need to have their tooth pulled out. And though we say we use the wiggle method, we want parents to know that we refer to it this way to help make your child more comfortable. During the actual procedure, we use a dental tool referred to as an elevator to move the tooth out of the gums and loosen it. 

Once the tooth is elevated from the gum, we can use a pair of dental forceps to rotate the tooth, separating it from the periodontal ligaments that attach it to the jawbone. Then, once it is loose, we can wiggle it the rest of the way out!

Surgical Extraction

In other scenarios, your child may require a surgical tooth extraction. A surgical extraction involves removing a small amount of bone and/or gum tissue along with the tooth. Surgical extraction is usually required to remove wisdom teeth, especially if they are still impacted below the gumline. Depending on the placement, the tooth may have to be removed in pieces rather than intact. 

Similar to a simple extraction, a local anesthetic will be used to numb the area surrounding the affected tooth. And once the anesthetic is doing its trick, an incision is made along the gum line to help reveal the tooth underneath. Once the dentist can get at the tooth, it is wiggled loose and removed with dental forceps. In some situations, dissolvable sutures are used to secure the incision which makes a recovery much easier – no stitches to be removed by the dentist. In some cases, the dentist may elect conscious sedation as well. 

Before, During, and After Your Child’s Tooth Extraction

Tooth extraction for kids is quite common, and at Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry we have the experience to make it a great experience. This said, knowing what to expect and how to talk to your child about tooth extraction can make things go smoother.  We take all the steps to help ensure your child is comfortable and has a positive experience in the dental chair.

Before Extraction

Before your child’s tooth extraction, they will get X-rays, and their pediatric dentist will discuss with you whether or not they’ll be able to save the tooth. If they can’t save it, the dentist will advise whether the tooth needs to be extracted immediately or if you should schedule an appointment. Whether your child will have their tooth extracted immediately or at their next appointment, be sure to talk to them positively to help put their mind at ease.

If your child knows of the tooth fairy, you might let them know that they’ll receive a special bonus reward for having their tooth wiggled out. And make sure they know that having their tooth extracted will help keep them healthier and stronger. If needed, let your child know that they’ll be able to enjoy extra ice cream for the few days following the procedure while their mouth heals. (This latter benefit is usually a winner!)

During Extraction 

We will take all the steps to ensure your child is kept comfortable during their procedure. If they are showing signs of dental anxiety, conscious sedation is a great option. Conscious sedation involves a combination of prescription strength medications that will ease your child through their procedure. But the best thing is that this is done without putting them to sleep. Instead, your child will simply feel relaxed and free from pain, making them more cooperative during the procedure. 

After Extraction 

After the extraction, your child may be asked to bit down on gauze for awhile to help control the bleeding. Pain relievers may be prescribed, and your child will be given an ice pack. We generally recommend that they stick to soft foods for the next few days. Great choices include ice cream, applesauce, yogurt, smoothies, pasta, oatmeal, or pudding. We’ll also show your child how to care for their mouth while it heals. 

Your dentist will provide specific instructions on how to care for your child’s mouth after their procedure. Further, your child may need a space maintainer or partial denture or orthodontic work done afterwards, which your dentist can talk through with you. 

Tooth extraction for kids can be pain-free and comfortable! 

At Spinnaker Pediatric Dentistry, we strive to create an easy, pain-free, and fast tooth extraction process. You’ll quickly see that we are much more than a dental practice that happens to treat children. Drs. Cooper and Day are true pediatric dental care providers. 

We know that some general dentists accept children as patients, but few dentists are as dedicated to kids’ dentistry as we are. Everything we do is geared toward kids—exclusively. If you live in or near Salem, Oregon, now is the time to request an appointment with Spinnaker Family Dentistry. We’ll make your child’s tooth extraction a pain-free and comfortable experience.