Kid’s Tooth Extraction in Arlington, VA

A baby tooth, or primary tooth, extraction is the removal of a primary tooth from a child’s jaw. Typically, removal is necessary because the tooth is damaged/decayed beyond repair. Molars, or back teeth, are more complicated to remove than front teeth because they have more roots.

While most primary teeth will fall out on their own before the permanent teeth erupt through the gums, there are exceptions. If a primary tooth does not come out on its own, the permanent tooth bud could be damaged. If there is an infection in the tooth, it could spread to your child’s vital organs, which can be life-threatening.

In this article, we’ll explain what you need to know about pediatric tooth extraction at Little Diamonds Pediatric Dentistry in Arlington, VA.

Why Do Kids Need Tooth Extraction?

There are several common reasons that a pediatric patient may need a tooth extracted, including:

Significant tooth decay

Since tooth enamel is thinner on primary teeth than on permanent teeth, they are especially susceptible to decay. In addition, pediatric patients typically have poor oral hygiene habits and a high-sugar diet, which increases their risk of developing tooth decay.

If detected early, tooth decay can typically be treated with a dental filling or crown. If left untreated for an extended period of time, the decay could worsen to the point that the tooth is not salvageable.

If left untreated, decay in primary teeth can result in significant oral and overall health issues due to the spread of bacteria. However, the potential disadvantage is that the adjacent teeth will shift into the open space, creating an orthodontic issue.

Mouth trauma/injuries

In some cases, the primary tooth is damaged due to trauma/injury. If a baby tooth is detached from the socket or cracked/chipped, it can cause pain and/or sensitivity. If the damage is not extensive, pediatric pulp therapy and/or a dental crown may preserve the tooth. However, in some cases- especially if an abscess develops, the tooth must be removed, and a space maintainer used until the permanent teeth come in.

To avoid orthodontic treatments

If primary teeth do not fall out on their own before the adult teeth erupt, it could cause bite problems. If teeth have not come out within a certain period of time around the specified developmental age, the tooth may be extracted. If bite problems develop, your child may need orthodontic treatment in the future.

Severe gum disease

Gingivitis is a condition characterized by redness, swelling, and bleeding of the gum tissues. While rare without the presence of a congenital or systemic issue, pediatric patients can develop pediatric periodontal disease if gingivitis is not addressed early.

Extra/Abnormally shaped primary teeth

While rare, there are some people who are born with extra teeth. This may be due to a systemic issue or may just be an anomaly. These extra teeth must be removed to allow permanent teeth to grow properly.

In some cases, the teeth may be abnormally shaped. For example, in some cases, two teeth may be fused into one. These usually don’t fall out naturally, so they must be extracted.

Dr. Dina Ghaly-Habib is a board-certified pediatric dentist. She is highly committed to and passionate about pediatric dentistry, especially for special needs.

Tooth Extraction Procedure

There are several steps involved in the tooth extraction procedure for our pediatric patients. The very first step is always to make sure that your child is comfortable. We do not want them to associate fear with our office. We want them to feel safe when they visit our clinic.

Kids Tooth Extraction Procedure In Arlington VA


Once your child is comfortable, we will move forward with treatment. The first step is the consultation. During this time, we will perform a comprehensive exam, discuss current and past medical and dental conditions, and take any necessary imaging. The imaging will show the number and position of the tooth roots in the jawbone.

Local Anesthesia

Typically, tooth extraction is done under local anesthesia. However, if your child has anxiety or is unable to remain still for an extended period, we do have sedation options including nitrous oxide, oral, and IV. We rarely use general anesthesia due to the risks.

For local anesthesia, a topical numbing gel is applied to the gums near the affected tooth, and local anesthetic is injected. The numbness will last for a few hours and helps eliminate the pain but not the pressure associated with tooth removal.

Tooth Removal

Next, the dentist will use surgical instruments to carefully remove the tooth without damaging the surrounding jawbone. There are two types of extraction: simple and surgical.


Typically, the socket will be covered with a piece of gauze and pressure applied for about 30 minutes. If needed, stitches can be put in as well.

Space Maintainer

A space maintainer is an orthodontic device that prevents neighboring teeth from shifting into the open space. This device is used when a molar is extracted or falls out early. If there is adequate space or if the permanent tooth is expected to erupt soon, this is usually not necessary.

Pediatric Tooth Extraction FAQs

If you or your child have any questions or concerns about removing baby teeth, Dr. Dina will be happy to answer them. We understand that dental visits can be scary for children, so we strive to create an environment that makes them feel relaxed and comfortable. We strive to build trust with you and your children.

Below are some of the most common questions that we get following tooth extraction in pediatric patients:

Why might my child need a tooth extraction?

There are several common reasons for pediatric tooth extractions:

  • Tooth decay that is too extensive for a dental filling
  • Space management/prep for orthodontic treatments
  • Over-retained baby teeth (primary teeth do not fall out before secondary teeth come in)
  • Teeth are chipped/damaged beyond repair due to dental trauma or disease
  • Teeth are oddly shaped or there are too many

Is tooth extraction painful for children?

Yes, tooth extraction at any age can be painful. However, the dentist will administer local anesthesia and sedation, if necessary, to help them relax. They may also have some minor discomfort as the anesthesia wears off. However, OTC and/or prescription pain relievers can help as well as rest.

At what age can a child undergo a tooth extraction?

Typically, children start naturally losing their teeth around the age of 6. However, extraction can be done at any time after a child’s teeth have erupted.

Will my child’s permanent teeth be affected after an extraction?

In most cases, a primary tooth extraction only has a positive impact on your child’s permanent teeth.

Are there any risks associated with tooth extraction in children?

Pediatric tooth extraction does have a small risk of complications including:

However, these can be minimized by working with a board-certified, experienced pediatric dentist, and following proper aftercare procedures.

How can I prepare my child for a tooth extraction?

There are a few things you can do to prepare your child for tooth extraction:

  • Schedule a visit ahead of time so that your child can meet the team
  • Explain that the dentist will not hurt them, but that removing the tooth will be helpful
  • Let them express how they feel about it
  • Let them pick out a special prize or help pick out recovery supplies

How long does it take for the extraction site to heal?

For most pediatric patients, the extraction site is fully healed within 14 days. However, it may take longer for molars since the tooth has more roots and the extraction was more complex.

How can I help my child recover after the extraction?

It’s important to keep in mind that minor bleeding is normal. Immediately following the extraction, the dentist will place a piece of gauze over the extraction site to control bleeding. In some cases, a few stitches may be needed but most of the time, this will not be necessary. Typically, a clot will form to protect the hole within the first 24 hours.

It is important to allow the clot to form to prevent dry socket, which is a very painful condition. Avoid rinsing for the first 24 hours to avoid disturbing the clot. When you rinse, use salt water to keep the area clean and help with pain relief. You can give your child an OTC pain reliever as directed and use an ice pack to control swelling. If your child develops a fever or excessive bleeding, pain, or swelling, contact the dentist right away.

For the first few days, it’s important that your child stick to a soft food diet and avoid crunchy/hard foods for at least 7 days. This will ensure the extraction site remains clean and the clot stays in place. Make sure they are drinking lots of water to remain hydrated and keep their mouth clean.

Will my child need any follow-up appointments after the extraction?

Typically, your child should not need follow-up visits following tooth extraction – the standard 6 month checkup will be enough.