For many children between the ages of 6 and 12, losing a tooth is a rite of passage. During those years, most children lose their baby teeth and grow their adult teeth. Typically, a kid loses about 20 teeth between age 6 and 12.
While for the most part, those teeth will fall out on their own, there are some instances when a tooth might need a bit of assistance from a dentist. Whatever ends up happening, it’s important to see a dentist and not to try to forcibly remove the tooth at home. Healthy baby teeth that are destined to fall out will usually do so on their own, in their own time. Pulling a baby tooth that’s otherwise healthy and just a bit loose can break the tooth or irritate the gum.
Reasons for Extracting Teeth
A dentist might decide that a child’s tooth needs to be pulled for a number of reasons. Wisdom teeth aren’t the only teeth that can become impacted. In some cases, another tooth might be unable to break through the gum line, meaning the best course of action is to surgically remove it.
Another reason why a dentist might pull a primary tooth that isn’t loose is if there is a problem with the tooth. Trauma to the mouth, such as getting hit with a ball during a sport or getting knocked in the mouth while roughhousing, can cause a baby tooth to crack or break. Depending on the severity of the damage, removing the tooth might be the best option.
In some cases, a child’s dental care habits might leave much to be desired, resulting in significant decay. A severely decayed tooth can be removed by a dentist to protect the other teeth around it. Typically, dentists will only pull a decayed baby tooth if there is no other way to save it. Depending on how old the child is and how far along he or she is in having the permanent teeth come in, the dentist might put a space saver in the area where the baby tooth was pulled, so that the adult tooth has room to come in.
Finally, some baby teeth might need to be removed because they won’t leave on their own and the child needs to make room in his or her mouth for the permanent teeth. Usually, it’s the canine teeth on the top of the mouth or the incisors on the bottom of the mouth that need to be removed to make way for the adult teeth. Removing the baby teeth might make sufficient room for the permanent teeth to come in, but in some cases, additional dental work is needed to coax the canine or incisor into place.
Getting Ready for the Extraction
If your child isn’t a fan of going to the dentist, he or she will probably be less than thrilled at the idea of having a tooth pulled, whether it ends up being a routine extraction or one that is a bit more in depth. Try to explain the procedure to your child as simply as you can and give him or her a general idea of what will happen during it. If your child is going to receive general anesthesia, you can simply tell him or her that he or she will be asleep and won’t feel anything while the dentist takes out the problem tooth.
If the extraction only involves local anesthetic, explain that your child will be awake, but won’t feel anything during the process. Remind your child that you’ll be right there by his or her side during the whole thing. You might want to bring along a special toy or stuffed animal to comfort your child during the process.
After the Tooth Is Pulled
Your child’s behavior after the surgery plays a part in how well he or she heals. Usually, the dentist will pack the area with some gauze, which absorbs any blood and helps the healing process along. Tell your child not to chew on the gauze, swallow it or try to take it out of the mouth. Help him or her keep the gauze over the surgical area for at least two hours, to staunch any bleeding.
When it comes to eating after surgery, start slowly. About an hour after the procedure, start giving your child clear liquids, such as water, Sprite or a sports drink. After several hours, your child might be able to tolerate something a bit heavier, such as ice cream or yogurt. Continue to stick to soft foods for several more days. Your child should avoid any foods that can irritate the surgical site, such as spicy or hot foods, salty snacks, and acidic foods, until it’s well healed.
If you are concerned about the state of your child’s teeth or want to know more about his or her options when it comes to tooth extraction, Dr. John Paul Gallardo and Dr. William Lamas are happy to help. The Miami periodontists provide routine extractions and the removal of impacted teeth. They can examine your child’s teeth and recommend the best option for his or her overall well being. For an appointment, call (305) 447-1447 today.