Tooth extractions in toddlers are not common, but they are needed occasionally. If your child suffers trauma or has extensive tooth decay, their dentist may recommend an extraction. Below are some things that you should be aware of.
Extraction Is Usually Avoided In Toddlers
Because toddlers do not have the ability to fully understand and cooperate with intensive dental procedures, your child will likely need general anesthesia for an extraction. For this reason, extractions are usually avoided if possible. Your pediatric dentist may want to take a more conservative approach and wait until your child is older (4-5 years old) to perform an extraction without general anesthesia. However, if your pediatric dentist suggests an extraction, it is likely due to the fact that it is immediately necessary. This is usually because an infection may be spreading up the baby tooth to the adult teeth or your child is in pain. In these cases, it is important to work with an experienced pediatric anesthesiologist and dentist to perform the extraction safely.
After Care May Be Difficult
After your child's tooth is extracted, it is important that you follow their dentist's instructions to prevent dry socket or infection. However, it can be difficult to get a toddler to cooperate with after care procedures. To make it easier, you should prepare your child a day or two before the procedure and let them know what you will be doing during recovery. Have some of their favorite movies or books on hand to help keep them calm and relaxed for a day or two after the procedure. They will likely have to bite down on a cotton pad to help stop the bleeding after the procedure, but some toddlers can forget to bite down. If they forget to bite down and the pad falls out, gently remind them to continue biting down and replace the cotton pad with a new one. Avoid chastising your child during the recovery period.
Your Child May Have Different Concerns Than You
As a parent, your child's overall health and safety is probably your biggest concern when your child needs extensive dental work. But your toddler may have different concerns. For example, they may be afraid that the tooth fairy will not visit them if their tooth was extracted. Or they may be afraid because they feel disoriented after general anesthesia. It is important to take the time to listen to your child's concerns and to reassure them regarding the issues they find important or scary around the extraction.