Baby teeth are meant to be lost so that the incoming adult teeth can erupt without issue. Most of the time, baby teeth are lost naturally, or due to an impactful force common in childhood. However, sometimes a baby tooth must be extracted to make room for the incoming adult tooth to avoid crowding and misalignment. If your child has a tooth extracted, they can experience pain and sensitivity in the following days. Follow these tips to keep your child’s mouth clean – and pain free – after they’ve had a tooth extracted.
The Day of the Extraction
Discourage Sipping from a Straw and Swishing
For up to 24 hours after the extraction, the newly exposed socket is incredibly sensitive. To avoid losing the healthy blood clot, make sure your child doesn’t use a straw during this period. The suction created when slurping can cause the clot to dislodge, and lead to more bleeding. Additionally, they should not vigorously swish any liquids as this can also cause the clot to come loose.
Stick to Soft Food
The day of the extraction, only serve your child soft foods that require little or no chewing. The socket and the area surrounding it will be very sensitive, and chewing firm foods can cause them pain and discomfort. Food that can be eaten with a spoon like mashed potatoes, soup, scrambled eggs, yogurt, apple sauce or pancakes are perfect to serve them in the 24 hours following their extracted tooth. Try to make sure their food isn’t too hot or cold, since their gums will be very sensitive to extreme temperatures.
2 – 7 Days after Tooth Extraction
Use Icepacks to Fight Swelling
Your child may have swollen cheeks in the days immediately following their tooth extraction. A good way to ease your child’s pain and fight swelling is by using an ice pack every 2 – 3 hours, or as needed. Have your child wrap an ice pack in a thin towel or cloth, and apply it to the affected area for 15 minutes at a time.
Incorporate a Saltwater Rinse
After 24 hours, it’s ok to begin using a warm saltwater rinse to clean their exposed socket. You can make a saltwater rinse by combining 8 oz of warm water with 1 teaspoon of salt. Have your child gently swish the saltwater in their mouth for 30 seconds before spitting it out. Saltwater rinses clean their mouth and help ease pain in the affected area.
Encourage a “Hands Free” Policy
It’s important that your child does not touch the newly exposed area so that it can remain clean. They should avoid touching or picking at the extraction area so that don’t introduce any germs into the area and prolong the healing process.
Your child’s mouth will be very sensitive for a few days after the extraction, but they should continue brushing their teeth twice a day for 2 minutes at a time. They should be more gentle than usual, and avoid brushing the extraction site all together to prevent unnecessary bleeding. They should also continue flossing normally while being careful around the extraction site.
Does Your Child Have a Pediatric Dentist?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry advises that children have an established dental home by their first birthday. If your child does not have a pediatric dentist, then use our pediatric dentist locator to find one in your neighborhood. A pediatric dentist will be able to provide services specifically for your child in a comfortable environment that they look forward to visiting.