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What to Do When Your Young Child Needs Teeth Pulled

Both of my children had to have teeth pulled. My daughter had an emergency extraction due to an accident; my son's extraction was planned.

My son's mouth was too small for the adult teeth to come in properly. A lateral incisor and both canines needed to be pulled out.

My son's mouth was too small for the adult teeth to come in properly. A lateral incisor and both canines needed to be pulled out.

A lucky few kids go through life with perfect teeth, never needing more dental care than floss and a regular cleanings. However, many kids have teeth and mouths that need a lot of attention, including scary-sounding procedures like tooth extraction. There are many reasons your child might need to have a baby tooth pulled, including:

  • accidental trauma
  • cavities
  • stubborn baby teeth that are blocking adult teeth from coming in properly

Here are a few guidelines to help your child (and you!) get through an unpleasant procedure with a minimum of pain and fuss.

See a Pediatric Dentist

If you take your child to the same dentist you see, he or she may not be getting the best care possible. Pediatric dentists have an additional two years of schooling in which they focus on the growth and development of teeth. They also learn how to help children be comfortable and deal with their fear and anxiety. While a good general dentist will probably do a fine job, a pediatric dentist specializes in children's teeth, has the right size equipment, and knows how to put your child at ease.

Besides, pediatric dentists' offices have children's books, TV, and video games to keep kids busy while they're waiting. Fun!

Be Honest but Calm with Your Child

You may have had a bad experience with having wisdom teeth extracted as an adult, or you may remember getting baby teeth pulled without the full complement of anesthetics in use today. Do not let your child see your anxiety! (It is perfectly acceptable to freak out a little after your child has gone to bed, though; no one wants to see her own child in pain.)

Tell your child that it may hurt a little at first, but that the dentist will give him medicine to make him numb, and afterwards he will just be a little sore. Remind him that you will be there to hold his hand (unless it's a very complicated surgery, in which case the dentist will put him under anyway). Promise him a small treat if he's brave; I don't generally recommend bribery for kids, but the thought of a couple of hours watching TV and ice cream for dinner may be just what your child needs to make it through. (And frankly, he won't be ready for much else right away.)

Look at the size of the roots on those canines! No wonder it hurts to get teeth pulled.

Look at the size of the roots on those canines! No wonder it hurts to get teeth pulled.

Follow Your Dentist's Instructions

During the procedure, the dentist will tell you where to stand so you aren't in his or her way. As long as the extraction is uncomplicated, you will most likely be able to stay with your child and hold his hand. The dentist will give your child anesthesia of some sort. Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is a common option, as is a numbing shot like Novocaine. Toddlers, special needs children, and children who need half a dozen teeth or more removed at once may need general anesthesia.

These cottony dental pads look a little like cigarettes. Try not to laugh, even if your child looks like he belongs in Fight Club with a swollen lip and a bloody "cigarette" between his teeth.

These cottony dental pads look a little like cigarettes. Try not to laugh, even if your child looks like he belongs in Fight Club with a swollen lip and a bloody "cigarette" between his teeth.

Baby Tooth Extraction Aftercare

Afterwards, your child is likely to be a drooly mess for several hours. Take him home and set him up in front of the TV, or cuddle with him and read to him for a while. He will probably have to bite down on a special pad that resembles a tampon without a string to stop the flow of blood. Your dentist will give you a pack or two to take home. Change them when they are sodden, or about every half hour for the first two hours after the extraction. Consider tucking a paper towel in your child's shirt as a bib so his shirt doesn't get wet and uncomfortable or stained.

Once your child's mouth regains some sensation, he can take out the pads. The blood clot in his mouth is likely to be bright red and angry-looking. Don't touch it or do anything to dislodge it. That means no sucking through a straw or chewing tough foods for a couple of days. Yogurt, applesauce, and bananas are foods that are good after getting baby teeth pulled out.

Your child's mouth may continue to be sore for a few days. Consult with your dentist if necessary; he will probably recommend ibuprofen.

Make Sure the Tooth Fairy Comes!

Depending on your child's age, this may be his first chance to experience the tooth fairy. Your child may be worried that the tooth fairy won't come because the teeth didn't fall out naturally. Allay your child's concerns and make sure the tooth fairy does something special.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

Question: Does it hurt a teen to get a tooth pulled?

Answer: It hurts anyone to get a tooth pulled, unless it is a baby tooth that is already wiggly! If a teen needs a tooth pulled, he or she is likely to get nitrous oxide and local anesthesia. For getting wisdom teeth out, they may put the teen completely under general sedation, so it wouldn't hurt at the time. Afterwards, the teen's mouth will be sore for a while, no matter what sedative or anesthesia was used during the procedure.

Comments

Crissi on August 18, 2018:

I need help my 5 yr old son is having serious dental issues. We have some ins. But they want to sedate him and its 1800$ , he hurts i need to help him..we live in ca. Any suggestions how to get help?

penny on January 11, 2018:

I got my tooth extracted 4 days ago. it's healing but the color inside of my gum is whitish brown. its a molar in the back the left side. I don't want to say I have a dry socket, but it hurts if I don't take my pills. its been four days since extraction, I thought the pain would be gone by then. I'm afraid ill get or have an infection

Shaun on August 15, 2017:

My granddaughter needs to have some teeth pulled due to lack of enamel and they are turning a grayish color. once they are pulled we would like to get an appliance for her so she doesn't end up with a speech problem. Can you recommend a supplementary dental insurance policy that is good in Florida that could help pay for it? Medicare will cover the surgical extraction but not the appliance that will help her be able to look and talk normal.

krissie on June 28, 2017:

hi there all, i took my 6 year old daugter to the dentist yesterday because she was crying of tooth pain. they said we have to pull 2 teeth at the back, it is bad tooth, so i agreed. when the dentist injected the tooth, my baby girls whole mouth started bleeding and she was craying her ear her ear, is that normal?

Hi on June 26, 2017:

If you're 11 years old how many teeth have been taken out

Erica on June 11, 2017:

Hi will it hurt for an 11 year old girl to get her adult tooth pulled out??

morgan on May 12, 2017:

Does it hurt your child. If they are getting a baby tooth that has a cavity in it that is a molar come out

Brainy Bunny (author) from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on April 05, 2017:

Cassandra, I'm sorry to hear about your daughter's teeth problems. At that age, children don't always understand what is going on, so make sure your dentist is gentle and calming. My daughter fell and loosened two teeth just before she turned three, and they had to be pulled. It won't be easy for your child (or for you!), but stay strong!

Cassandra on April 04, 2017:

Im glad I saw this my 1 year old has to have 4 of her top teeth pulled in a week. Her teeth came in with decay due to chemo when she was born and she fell and broke 2 in half and the other 2 are getting bad

Brainy Bunny (author) from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on January 13, 2017:

Jessibabes89, My son's teeth look great now! There was some movement of the nearby teeth into the empty spaces, but that was fixed with braces as his permanent teeth started coming in.

Jessibabes89@gmail.com on January 13, 2017:

has there been any problems since your son having LG them out 4 years down the line

Brainy Bunny (author) from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on October 15, 2016:

It's normal to be worried, but try not to communicate that to your child. Be calm and positive about it, and she will have a lot less anxiety. Good luck!

Ann on October 14, 2016:

My 5 year old is getting her teeth pulled out next week, I'm really worried about it.

Brainy Bunny (author) from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on April 24, 2012:

We've found that it pays to make friends with our dentists, since we don't have dental insurance! Dentists tend to offer more discounts and flexibility in payment than doctors do, especially if you don't have insurance. If the bill is large, ask politely for a discount, especially if you've been a patient for a long time. what's the worst that can happen?

In the meantime, maybe you should call your dentist and see if your son's appointment should be moved up. They may say no, but they may be glad to be informed of any funky things happening in your son's mouth, so they can note it in his chart. I didn't do that, and I felt weird every time I saw the shark teeth in my son's mouth.

Leah Lefler from Western New York on April 24, 2012:

Oh, no... that is exactly what my son is like! His first baby tooth did fall out on its own, but his adult tooth is nearly all the way up and out of place. I suppose I better start budgeting for a few dental procedures now!

Brainy Bunny (author) from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on April 23, 2012:

Well, he's a bit achy on one side of his mouth, but other than that he's doing great. Kids are very resilient!

Rachel Vega from Massachusetts on April 23, 2012:

Jeepers, poor kid! But it looks like his mouth is healing up nicely. And he also looks pleased enough to be showing it off, at least. :^)

Brainy Bunny (author) from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on April 23, 2012:

Hi, Leah. That's exactly what happened to my son. In November his adult bottom teeth started to come in behind his baby teeth. He didn't lose the front baby teeth until January. By the time we saw the dentist two weeks ago, his mouth was a mess. The dentist recommended a trip to the orthodontist for a second opinion; the orthodontist agreed his teeth were a mess, and so back to the dentist for the extractions. It has been a busy (and expensive!) month. Good luck with your son's mouth!

Leah Lefler from Western New York on April 23, 2012:

I'm worried about this with my six year old. His adult teeth came in behind his baby teeth - fortunately one baby tooth just fell out on its own but his mouth is a mess. He sees the dentist again in June, so we'll see what the dentist wants to do. His upper teeth have lots of space, but the lower ones look a lot like your son's!

Brainy Bunny (author) from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on April 23, 2012:

We've unfortunately had to deal with it with both our kids. My 6-year-old son's teeth were yanked just the other day (that's his crooked mouth in the photos), and my daughter had two teeth pulled when she was just 3. That was much worse, since it was an urgent extraction for trauma (she tripped and fell on her face). But aside from a little achiness, my son hasn't had any problems. Thank goodness!

LauraGT from MA on April 23, 2012:

I haven't had to deal with this yet, but am glad to have this hub as a resource in case I do. My 5 year old has had 2 fillings, and I think it was much worse for me than for him! Thanks for the info!