Children's dentistry. First examination at the dentist. A cute beautiful girl with an open mouth is looking to the side while the doctor is treating her teeth.

Children And Dental Extractions: A Helpful Guide For Parents

Getting a tooth extracted can be an anxiety-inducing experience for both children and parents. However, dental extractions are sometimes necessary for maintaining your child’s oral health. 

Experts recommend staying calm and preparing your child physically and emotionally for the procedure. This will help ensure the extraction process goes smoothly. 

Below is a helpful guide for parents on what to expect before, during, and after your child’s dental extraction.

Preparing For The Extraction

Staying informed and proactive are the best ways to prepare your child for getting a tooth extracted. Taking the time to make preparations can significantly reduce anxiety for both you and your child. Here are some tips:

1. Talk To Your Child’s Dentist

Having an in-depth, open discussion with your child’s dentist before the procedure is crucial. Ask about the specific reason the tooth needs to be extracted, such as decay, damage, crowding, or infection. Understand the exact tooth or teeth being removed and where they are located. 

Ask your dentist clinics, like Durango DMD, to explain step-by-step what will happen during the extraction appointment, including using anesthesia and dental tools. 

Also, discuss the aftercare—what to expect following the extraction, instructions for caring for the surgery site, and guidelines for eating, drinking, and activity. 

Don’t be afraid to ask any other questions about potential complications or risks. Being fully informed will help you properly prepare your child both logistically and emotionally.

2. Explain The Procedure To Your Child

Once you have all the details about the upcoming extraction, explain the procedure to your child in simple, child-friendly terms. Use analogies they understand, like removing a loose tooth to help others feel better. 

Be honest, but avoid graphic details that may alarm them unnecessarily. The dentist will ensure they don’t feel anything during the extraction and take great care of their mouth. 

Let your child know their mouth may feel sore afterward for a few days, but you will be there to help them feel better. Give reassurance that getting a tooth pulled is not as scary as it sounds.

3. Schedule Accordingly

Make strategic choices about scheduling to minimize disruption and stress. If your child is very nervous about the extraction, schedule it for the morning when they are most alert and well-rested. 

This will make them feel a bit more in control. Also, avoid interfering with school obligations when booking the appointment time. Missing school adds unnecessary stress on top of the anxiety about the procedure itself. 

If you opt to tell the school about the extraction, have your child’s teacher alerted to excuse your child from vigorous recess activity for a day or two.

4. Fast Beforehand

Be sure to follow all fasting instructions your dentist provides before the extraction. Avoiding solid food and liquids for the recommended hours beforehand (typically six to eight hours) is crucial. 

This will prevent choking hazards or vomiting during the procedure, ensuring your child’s safety while under anesthesia. Stick to the guidelines closely, only giving sips of water if permitted. 

Prepare your child for the fasting requirement and use distractions like books or movies at home to get their mind off feeling hungry leading up to the appointment time.

5. Dress Comfortably

Ensure your child is dressed in loose, comfortable clothing on the extraction day. Tops with tight collars or ties and constrictive sleeves that could rub on your child’s numb mouth should be avoided. 

The pressure could cause irritation and discomfort after the procedure when numbness is wearing off. Choose soft, loose-fitting tops and bottoms your child finds relaxing. This will let them dress down and feel at ease at the appointment. 

If it helps them relax, let your child wear their favorite pajamas or lounge clothes.

6. Use Distractions

Bring items from home like books, coloring books, puzzles, tablets loaded with movies or games, music players with headphones, fidget toys like squishy stress balls, or other engaging distractions. 

Having activities ready will occupy your anxious child both in the waiting room before the extraction and while recovering afterward. Distractions help take their mind off what’s happening and pass the time more pleasantly. 

Make sure electronics are fully charged, and bring various options since your child’s interests may change. Having distractions handy gives your child a sense of control, too.

The Extraction Appointment

Knowing how the extraction visit will likely play out can significantly ease anxiety for both you and your child. Here’s a step-by-step overview of what the appointment will entail:

Numbing And Sedation

The first step is for your child to be made comfortable through numbing and possibly sedation. The dentist will first apply a topical numbing gel to the gums around the extraction site. 

Then, they will administer an injection of local anesthesia directly into the gums and tooth to fully numb the area. For particularly anxious children or more complex procedures, additional laughing gas or an oral sedative may be provided to help your child relax.

Removal Process

Once fully numbed, your child will feel only pressure, not pain, during the actual tooth removal. The dentist will first use a tool called an elevator to gently loosen the tooth and surrounding ligaments. 

Then, they will use either forceps to grasp and wiggle the tooth out or a dental drill to carefully detach it. You may hear noises of the tooth being dislodged. Some rocking, pressure, or cracking sensations are normal but should not be painful. 

The dentist will ensure your child is comfortable throughout and pause if needed.

Gauze And Observation

After removing the tooth, the dentist will have your child bite down on gauze to help control bleeding in the socket. You’ll wait about 20–30 minutes in the office while the gauze applies pressure to allow a clot to begin forming. 

Your dentist will replace the gauze as needed if the oozing continues. During this time, instruct your child not to spit, smoke, drink through a straw, or rinse forcefully, as these can dislodge the forming clot and prolong the bleeding.

Post-Procedure Instructions

Before you leave, your dentist will clearly explain how to care for the site over the next few days. They’ll review what to expect regarding normal pain, swelling, bleeding, and healing. 

Written instructions for oral hygiene, eating guidelines, medication, and follow-up appointments will be provided. Make sure to carefully follow all recommendations given for proper, complication-free healing.

Aftercare And Recovery

The healing period following your child’s dental extraction is crucial for avoiding complications. Be diligent about following these tips to ensure proper aftercare:

Control Swelling

Facial swelling around the extraction site is normal and peaks about 48 hours afterward. To minimize swelling, apply an ice pack wrapped in a cloth or towel to your child’s cheek. Use for 10-15 minutes at a time, taking breaks to prevent frost damage to skin. 

Continue icing on and off regularly for the first one to two days. The cold constricts blood vessels to reduce inflammation and fluid buildup. Avoid heat, which worsens swelling. If swelling persists beyond three to four days, call your dentist.

Manage Pain

Your child will likely experience some degree of pain and soreness in the days following the extraction. Make sure to give any prescription pain medication exactly as directed by your dentist. Don’t exceed the dosage amounts or frequency. 

For milder pain, pediatricians often recommend OTC children’s acetaminophen or ibuprofen. 

Give on a schedule rather than waiting for the pain to start. The first night is usually the worst, but discomfort should steadily improve, gradually transitioning your child to soft foods. Call your dentist if severe pain persists for more than three to four days.

Promote Clotting

Bleeding should stop within an hour after the extraction. Keep firm pressure on the gauze the dentist places for at least 30–60 minutes, replacing as needed if oozing continues. 

Don’t let your child spit, rinse their mouth forcefully, use a straw, smoke, or engage in strenuous activity for 24 hours. This will disturb the initial blood clot trying to form in the socket and delay healing. 

Some oozing is normal for the first day, but call the dentist if you notice heavy bleeding, large clots, or bleeding that won’t stop.

Observe The Site

Check the extraction site twice daily for signs of complications like excessive bleeding, increasing pain, bad breath, chipped adjacent teeth, or exposed bone. Tell your dentist right away if any worrisome symptoms develop. 

Monitoring the healing progress will help catch any problems early when they’re most treatable.

Practice Oral Hygiene

Good oral hygiene after an extraction prevents food and bacteria from irritating the site. Have your child gently rinse with warm salt water 24 hours later. Make sure they brush carefully around but not directly on the extraction socket while it heals. 

An antibacterial rinse may also be recommended. Proper brushing keeps the area clean without disturbing the clot.

Eat A Soft Diet

For at least the first three to four days, stick to a soft food diet. Foods like applesauce, yogurt, scrambled eggs, gelatin, milkshakes, smoothies, and broth-based soups are ideal. Avoid spicy, acidic, crunchy, or sticky foods that could get lodged in the socket. 

The goal is to provide nutrition without aggravating the site while chewing and swallowing. Slowly reintroduce regular foods as the pain subsides.

Rest Up

Make sure your child gets enough rest and takes it easy in the days following the dental extraction. Their body needs extra sleep to recover properly. Avoid strenuous physical activities like sports or playgrounds temporarily, as these can prolong bleeding and pain. Rest and relaxation will help the mouth heal faster.

Follow Up As Needed

See your dentist as scheduled for post-operative checkups to ensure healing is progressing well. Usually, one to two follow-ups are needed. 

This allows the dentist to monitor pain, swelling, and oral hygiene and intervene early if complications like dry sockets occur. Follow all recommendations for additional care to support your child’s recovery.

When To Call The Dentist

While the extraction recovery period is usually smooth, contact your dentist right away if your child experiences:

Excessive Bleeding: Bleeding that won’t stop after an hour, is heavy, or contains large clots.

Bad Breath/Taste: A foul mouth odor and taste could indicate an infection.

Increasing Swelling: Facial swelling that progresses after two days post-extraction.

Severe Pain: Pain that steadily worsens with time, persists beyond a few days, or isn’t controlled by medication.

Exposed Bone: You can see the jawbone in the extraction socket, indicating delayed healing.

Numbness: Lingering numbness in the lips, chin, or tongue beyond 24 hours.

Allergic Reaction: Rash, itching, trouble breathing, or swollen lips/face signal an allergy, likely to anesthesia or antibiotics.

Fever: A temperature over 100 °F may indicate a developing infection.

Seeking prompt dental attention for concerning symptoms can prevent complications from worsening. Your dentist can provide the proper care to help your child feel better again.

Little boy getting his teeth checked by dentist at dental clinic.

Tips For Making Extractions Easier

While dental extractions will never be fun, the following tips can help make the process smoother and less stressful for your child:

Choose A Pediatric Dentist: Their specialized training and child-friendly offices help put kids at ease.

Request Nitrous Oxide: The relaxing effects of laughing gas take the edge off for nervous kids.

Bring A Security Item: Letting your child hold a favorite stuffed animal or blanket provides comfort.

Use Books Or Videos: Reading together or watching tablet videos is an engaging distraction.

Remain Calm Yourself: When parents stay relaxed, kids feed off that energy and relax, too.

Give Encouragement: Praise your child for bravery and listening to the dentist.

Do A Rewards System: Promise a prize like a post-visit ice cream trip or toy for getting through the extraction.

Avoid Negativity: Don’t say things like “This will hurt” that stir up fear. Stay positive.

Ask For Breaks: If the dentist sees your child getting upset during the procedure, they’ll likely pause to provide a quick break.

Taking measures to make your child feel safe and relaxed will go a long way toward a smooth extraction visit. Work with your pediatric dentist to determine the best solutions for your unique child.


While getting a tooth pulled is not an experience any child looks forward to, dental extractions are often necessary for protecting your child’s oral health and well-being. As a parent, you can make a big difference in how your child handles the extraction process. 

Staying informed, giving support, properly preparing your child physically and mentally, and diligently providing aftercare can help make the procedure as easy and pain-free as possible. 

Working closely with your pediatric dentist and following their recommendations will also ensure your child recovers smoothly. With your help and compassion, your child’s extraction can be a minimal blip in their normal routine. 

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