Why does my child need to have a tooth removed?
Your child may need to have a tooth removed for one or more of the following reasons.
- tooth decay
- dental abscess
- failed root-canal treatment
- severe pain
- orthodontic (teeth and jaw) treatment
- medical reasons
Are there any alternatives to removing a tooth?
Simple painkillers such as paracetamol can help control mild pain and antibiotics can help with infection.
Sometimes root-canal treatment will help to treat infection and pain.
Depending on how damaged your child’s tooth is, your dentist may be able to rebuild it with a filling or crown.
What will happen if I decide that my child will not have the operation or the operation is delayed?
The symptoms may get worse or return. There is a risk of your child getting a serious, life-threatening infection.
If your child needs to have their tooth removed before they can have other dental or orthodontic treatment, that treatment may not be possible or the chance of the treatment being a success may be reduced.
If your child has increased pain, contact your dentist.
What does the procedure involve?
The procedure can take up to 40 minutes. Your dentist will loosen and remove your child’s tooth with instruments called elevators and forceps.
Most teeth can be loosened and removed in less than a minute. However, sometimes removing a tooth can involve cutting the gum to uncover the tooth, removing bone around the tooth and splitting the tooth with a drill.
What complications can happen?
- swelling and bruising
- allergic reaction to the equipment, materials or medication
- dry socket, where the socket does not heal well
- retained roots
- damage to nearby teeth
- broken jaw
- your child not being able to open their mouth fully and jaw stiffness
- sinus problems
- damage to nerves, leading to loss of sensation or a tingling sensation in your child’s teeth, jaw, lips, tongue and chin
Consequences of this procedure
How soon will my child recover?
To reduce the risk of bleeding, swelling and bruising, your child should not exercise or have a hot bath for 24 hours.
Your child must leave their wound alone for 2 days. Then for the next 2 days they must rinse their mouth gently with warm, salty water after meals.
Your child may need to take up to a week off school, but often much less than this. They should be able to return to normal activities within a week.
Your dentist may arrange for your child to come back to the clinic to remove any stitches or for a check-up. Most children make a full recovery.
Teeth can sometimes cause serious problems.
Removing a tooth is usually a safe and effective way to prevent your child’s symptoms from coming back.
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Last reviewed: September 2023