What Aftercare Is Needed After Tooth Removal?

A tooth extraction (or tooth removal) is a common procedure, but it’s not one that’s over as soon as you leave the dentist’s office. Proper aftercare is as essential as the procedure itself.

It’s normal to feel uneasy about caring for a child after a tooth removal – knowing what to expect is the surest way to get through the experience without a hitch. Here’s what you need to know about the procedure, aftercare, and follow-up:

Tooth Removal Aftercare Tips

Your dentist will provide detailed tooth removal aftercare instructions, but here are some quick tips:

  • Follow the instructions on any medications prescribed by the dentist. Your child may need antibiotics, painkillers, both, or neither.
  • After the first 24 hours have passed, prepare a warm salt water rinse and have your child swoosh it around. You can repeat the salt water rinse a few times per day for the next few days.
  • Encourage your child to take it easy. Vigorous physical activity can increase blood pressure and blood flow to the mouth.
  • Change the gauze pads regularly – more often when they’re soaked with blood.
  • Encourage your child to eat soft foods and drink plenty of fluids. Straws are off-limits.
  • Keep the dentist’s phone number handy in case you have questions.

What Happens When a Tooth Is Removed?

A tooth extraction is a relatively simple process. The dentist will numb the area using a local anesthetic. Once the area is numb, they’ll use a specialized tool to pull the tooth up (or down) and out. Your child will have a hole, or socket, where the tooth used to be.

The dentist will apply gauze, but they won’t fill or close the hole. Over time, with proper care, the hole will heal and close on its own.

Dry Socket Symptoms

Dry socket is an uncommon consequence of tooth removal. It occurs after about 2% of extractions. Dry socket happens when the normal, healthy blood clot that protects the hole is dislodged.

Dry socket can be very painful, and it requires treatment. Keep an eye out for the signs of dry socket, including:

  • Severe pain at or around the removal site.
  • Pain that radiates through the jaw to the ear.
  • Bad breath.
  • An unusual (and unpleasant) taste in the mouth.
  • A white area at the removal site.

To minimize the risk, encourage your child to resist spitting and keep straws out-of-reach. If it’s possible your child has dry socket, contact the dentist right away.

twin girls smiling on haystack

When Should My Child Go Back to the Dentist?

A bit of lingering tenderness or swelling is normal, but if all is well after a tooth extraction, your child should feel as good as new a few days after treatment. Your dentist will likely want to see your child to check the healing progress – they’ll usually set the date before you leave the initial appointment.

Get Tooth Extraction Aftercare Tips from a Kool Smiles Partner Dentist

If your child needs to have a tooth removed, Kool Smiles Kids Club has partner dentists who are ready to help. Our partner dentists are well-practiced in caring for children. When you choose a Kool Smiles partner for your child’s dental care, you can rest assured that your child’s teeth are in good hands.