What is dental procedures and surgery?

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What are common dental procedures in children?

Your child's dental care may include several procedures. They all help protect your child's dental health and overall well-being.

This removes plaque and tartar (hard mineral buildup) from the teeth above the gumline. It helps prevent tooth decay and cavities.
This is a strong liquid-plastic material. It's put on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. It helps protect teeth from tooth decay and cavities.
Scaling and root planing.
This removes plaque and tartar from between the gums and the teeth below the gumline. It helps prevent or treat gum disease.
These fill cavities created in the tooth by tooth decay. They prevent cavities from getting worse. They also help protect the tooth from infection. They are usually made of a tooth-colored resin or a mix of metals.
This removes an entire tooth. The dentist takes out the part of the tooth you can see and the tooth roots that are in the jawbone. It's done when no other treatment can work for a badly infected or broken tooth. It's also used to make enough room in the mouth so that other teeth can come in straight.

How can you care for yourself after a dental surgery?


  • Allow the area to heal. Don't move quickly or lift anything heavy until you are feeling better.
  • Rest when you feel tired.
  • Your dentist may give you specific instructions on when you can do your normal activities again, such as driving and going back to work.


  • Eat soft foods, such as gelatin, pudding, or a thin soup. Gradually add solid foods to your diet as you heal. You can eat solid foods again in about a week.
  • If you had a tooth pulled, don't use a straw for the first few days. Sucking on a straw can loosen the blood clot that forms at the surgery site. If this happens, it can delay healing.


  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. You will also get instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you stopped taking aspirin or some other blood thinner, your doctor will tell you when to start taking it again.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the dentist gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your dentist if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If your dentist prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.

Incision care

  • While your mouth is numb, be careful not to bite your tongue or the inside of your cheek or lip.
  • If you had a tooth pulled, bite gently on a gauze pad now and then. Change the pad as it becomes soaked with blood. Call your dentist if you still have bleeding 24 hours after your surgery.
  • If you had stitches in your gums, your dentist will tell you if and when you need to come back to have them removed.
  • Starting 24 hours after your tooth was pulled, gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water several times a day to reduce swelling and relieve pain.
  • Continue to brush your teeth and tongue carefully. Floss when your dentist says you can.

Ice and heat

  • If needed, put ice or a cold pack on your cheek for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when you are awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.

Other instructions

  • Do not smoke for at least 24 hours after your surgery. Smoking can delay healing. Smoking also decreases the blood supply and can bring germs and contaminants to the mouth.

After dental surgery: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe trouble breathing.

Call your dentist now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You have loose stitches, or your incision comes open.
  • You have new or more bleeding from the site.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.
  • You have new or worse nausea or vomiting.
  • You are too sick to your stomach to drink any fluids.
  • You cannot keep down fluids.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your dentist if you have any problems.

What health problems do you need to tell your dentist about?

Tell your dentist if you:

  • Have had an organ transplant. The antirejection medicines may increase your risk of mouth infections. So it's very important to keep your gums and teeth clean and healthy.
  • Have certain heart problems. Dental work could cause an infection in your heart. Ask your doctor if you need to take antibiotics if you:
    • Have had a heart valve replaced or repaired.
    • Have had endocarditis.
    • Have had heart defects since birth.
    • Have had heart valve problems after a heart transplant.
  • Have had your hip, knee, or shoulder replaced. Your doctor may want you to take special precautions if you are at high risk for infection.
  • Take aspirin or some other blood thinner. These medicines prevent blood clots. The medicine may cause you to bleed more than usual.

After your child's dental surgery: Overview

Children are likely to get medicine to make them sleep during dental surgery. It depends on the age of the child and the procedure being done.

Your child may have some pain, bleeding, or swelling afterward. Your child may get medicine for pain. The pain should improve steadily after the surgery.

Dental surgery includes procedures such as tooth extractions, root canals, and gum surgery.

How are common dental procedures done in children?

Treatments for pain

Before your child's dental procedures, your dentist may use medicines to help your child stay calm and relaxed and to prevent pain. These may include a numbing medicine brushed on the gums and a shot of numbing medicine in the mouth. Your child may also have nitrous oxide gas or medicines to treat anxiety. Some children get medicine to make them sleep (general anesthesia).


Your child's dentist or a dental hygienist uses a scraping tool to remove plaque and tartar from your child's teeth. The dentist or hygienist will also use floss to clean between the teeth. Paste may be used to remove stains.


The dentist or hygienist starts by placing a cotton roll around the teeth to keep the teeth dry. Liquid is applied that will glue the sealant to the teeth. After about a minute, the dentist or hygienist will rinse off the excess glue, dry the teeth, and put on the sealant.

Scaling and root planing

The dentist or hygienist uses a scraping tool or a small vibrating tool to remove plaque, tartar, and infection from between the gums and teeth. This focuses on the parts of the teeth below the gumline and down the roots. A planing tool is used to smooth the roots. This helps the gums attach tightly to the roots.


First the dentist numbs the tooth. A dental drill is used to remove all the tooth decay. Then the dentist uses filling material to replace the area that was removed.


To remove a tooth, the dentist numbs the tooth and the area around it. Then the dentist uses a special tool to grasp the tooth and lift it out of the tooth socket. Your child is then given a piece of gauze or cotton to bite down on. This will help stop the bleeding. Your child may also get stitches.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.