A child’s tooth must be extracted if it is so badly decayed that even a root canal won’t save the tooth, or when the primary teeth “hang around” too long, as that can adversely affect the eruption path of the underlying permanent ones. A tooth should also be extracted if it is fractured beyond repair.
Kids usually start losing their baby teeth around age six or seven and the teeth in the front of the mouth, called incisors, are usually the first to go. When a permanent tooth starts coming in, the roots of the baby tooth dissolve until it is loose enough to fall out painlessly and with very little blood. However, sometimes teeth don’t fall out as easily as we hope and parents may wonder if they should pull the tooth. The answer, though, is that it may be tempting to pull a loose tooth, but it’s best to wait until it’s ready to come out without being forced.
Does Tying a String on a Doorknob Still Work?
There are a bunch of old wives’ tales that explain how to pull out a loose tooth; you may have heard of tying a string to the tooth and doorknob and then slamming the door, or yanking out a particularly stubborn loose tooth with some plyers. The truth is, if the loose tooth in your child’s mouth is not ready to come out naturally, attempts to remove it may pull on the sensitive roots and cause unnecessary pain. Pulling a child’s tooth that isn’t loose enough could cause excessive bleeding, damage to the tissues, or lead to infection.
If the tooth seems significantly attached to the roots, you should tell your child to wait to pull out the tooth for minimal pain. Encourage him or her to continue wiggling it to make it looser; brushing teeth several times a day or simply eating a crunchy apple can also help loosen the tooth so it falls out painlessly! This should be comforting to your child since many kids are afraid that pulling a tooth will hurt.
Post-Procedure Care for Your Child
If you do end up having to get your child’s baby teeth extracted, the post-procedure care is pretty straightforward. We always have the child bite on a piece of gauze until the bleeding stops and a blood clot forms. Ongoing bleeding will require changing the gauze every 20 minutes until the bleeding stops. Once you get home, follow these tips:
- Give your child over-the-counter or prescribed medication to soothe soreness in their jaw.
- Place an ice pack on any swollen areas for about 20 minutes to decrease inflammation.
- Serve only soft foods for the 24 hours after extraction.
- Don’t let your child spit or drink from a straw since the force could unclog the blood clot.
- Have your child continue their normal dental care routine, but they must brush and floss their teeth with an extremely gentle touch.
- Tell your child to avoid brushing the area of the tooth extraction until it fully heals around the clot.
- Call your dentist immediately if your child experiences fever, chills, great pain, or severe swelling.
If there is ever any concern about a loose tooth, consulting your dentist is the best course of action. Contact Dr. Jay Elbrecht if you have any questions concerning your baby teeth. Request an appointment online or call (765) 622-7000.