When Can My Child Return to School After Tooth Extraction?


If your child has recently had a tooth extracted, you’re probably wondering when they can go back to school. Extracting a tooth is a relatively minor oral surgery, but it still requires some recovery time. Letting your child rest and follow the proper aftercare instructions is important for preventing complications and ensuring the extraction site heals properly.

Every child heals at their own pace, but there are some general guidelines from dental professionals about when it’s safe to resume normal activities like going to school after a tooth extraction. Here’s what you need to know about the typical healing process and timeline.

The First 24 Hours After Extraction

The first 24 hours after the tooth extraction are usually the most uncomfortable for your child. During this initial period, it’s best to keep them home from school to allow them to rest.

Immediately after the extraction, the area will be numb from the local anesthetic used during the procedure. As this wears off over the next few hours, your child will likely experience some pain, swelling, and bleeding. Over-the-counter children’s medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help relieve discomfort.

Your dentist or oral surgeon will send you home with a piece of gauze placed over the extraction site. Have your child gently bite down on this for 30-60 minutes to allow a blood clot to form in the socket. This clot is essential for healing correctly.

For the remainder of the first day, your child should avoid any strenuous activity that could potentially dislodge the clot. Stick to soft, cool foods and have them drink plenty of fluids. Using an ice pack on the cheek can help minimize swelling.

Days 2-3 After Extraction

By days 2 and 3 after the extraction, the initial bleeding should have stopped and swelling will peak before gradually starting to subside. Your child will still experience some jaw stiffness and mild-moderate pain that can be managed with over-the-counter medications.

Many kids feel up to returning to school during this timeframe as long as their pain is controlled with medication and they can manage a soft/liquid diet. Let your child rest as needed at home, and clear their schedule as much as possible – no gym class, sports, or other strenuous physical activities yet.

It’s also very important that your child avoids drinking with a straw, blowing their nose forcefully, or any activity that could dislodge the blood clot during this time. The clot needs to remain in place for proper healing.

Days 4-7 After Extraction

From days 4-7 after the tooth extraction, the pain and swelling should continue to steadily improve day by day. Most kids are able to resume their normal routines during this period, including attending school full-time.

The extraction site may still have an open hole initially but this will start filling in with new tissue. Let your child’s teacher know that hard, crunchy, or spicy foods should still be avoided until the socket is fully closed over.

While the extraction site will feel better, it’s not fully healed yet. Your child should continue avoiding any sucking or blowing motions that could disturb the area. Rinsing gently after eating is fine, but no vigorous rinsing or spitting should occur yet.

Week 2 After Extraction

After about 10-14 days, the extraction site for a simple tooth pull should be partially or completely closed and your child should be back to eating all of their normal foods without issue.

Some swelling and jaw stiffness may still linger for a few more weeks, but the discomfort should be mostly resolved. If your child had their wisdom teeth or other impacted teeth extracted, the healing timeline may be a bit longer.

Your dentist will check the surgical site at around the 2 week mark to ensure it’s healing properly. As long as there are no complications like dry socket, most kids are able to fully resume all activities at this point, including contact sports.

Factors That Affect Healing Timelines

It’s important to remember that these are just general timelines – every child will heal at their own unique pace based on factors like:

  • Age
  • Overall health
  • Which tooth was extracted
  • Whether it was a simple or surgical extraction
  • How diligently they follow aftercare instructions

Younger kids and those who had more complex extractions may need a bit more recovery time before feeling ready to return to school and all normal activities. Carefully following your dentist’s specific instructions will help ensure the quickest possible healing.

Open Communication is Key

Throughout the process, keep an open dialogue with your child. Let them know you understand how they’re feeling and it’s okay to take the recovery process at their own pace. Check in each day to gauge energy levels, remaining pain, and if they feel ready to go back to class.

You should also keep your child’s teacher updated so they can make accommodations during the first few days back. For example, allowing bathroom breaks more frequently, avoiding any gym or strenuous activities in the first week, and giving your child extra time on assignments if needed.

Your child’s health should always come first, even if it means a few extra sick days at home. But with some planning and patience, most kids are able to bounce back and return to school within 3-7 days after a routine tooth extraction.

Steps for a Smooth Return to School

Here are some tips to make your child’s transition back to school after their tooth extraction as smooth and comfortable as possible:

  • Talk to the teacher. Keep an open line of communication about your child’s procedure and their return date. Ask for some leeway and accommodations during the first week back.
  • Pack soft foods. Send soft foods like yogurt, pudding, applesauce, mashed potatoes, etc. for lunch and snacks. Avoid anything crunchy, hard, sticky, or spicy that could irritate the extraction site initially.
  • Ramp up slowly. Consider starting with half days back at school if your child still tires easily those first couple days.
  • Avoid gym class initially. Don’t let your child participate in gym class, sports, or any strenuous physical activities for the first week back to prevent bleeding or dislodging the blood clot.
  • Allow rest. Let your child put their head down if they’re feeling extra tired, and don’t overload them with homework in those first few days.
  • Watch for complications. Keep an eye out for signs of infection like fever, chills, excessive bleeding or discharge from the socket, and severe ongoing pain and swelling. Let your dentist know right away if you notice anything concerning.

With some patience and following your dentist’s instructions carefully, your child should be back to their normal routine soon after their tooth extraction. Remember, their safety and comfort should be the number one priority.

Focus on allowing them to fully heal initially, even if it means a few extra sick days at home. Getting back to school too quickly risks dislodging the blood clot and significantly delaying the healing process. Soon enough, your child will be all smiles again ready to learn and play!

Frequently Asked Questions

Smoothies and milkshakes can be a good option for kids after a tooth extraction, as long as they don’t require sucking through a straw. The sucking motion can potentially dislodge the blood clot from the extraction site. Instead, have your child drink smoothies or milkshakes by sipping from a cup or using a spoon.

Playing certain musical instruments like brass or woodwind instruments may need to be avoided for the first week or so after an extraction. The blowing motion required could disrupt the healing process. Check with your dentist, but it’s generally recommended to wait until the extraction site is fully closed over before resuming these activities.

It’s best for your child to avoid sleeping directly on the side of the extraction for the first few nights. The pressure can cause discomfort and potentially lead to prolonged swelling or bleeding. Prop them up with extra pillows to sleep slightly elevated, which can also help reduce swelling.

Your child should avoid brushing directly on or near the extraction site for the first 24 hours. After that, they can carefully brush their other teeth, being very gentle around the surgical area. Avoid any vigorous rinsing or spitting for the first few days. Around 5-7 days post-op, they can typically resume normal brushing.

Most dentists recommend sticking to a soft food diet for the first 5-7 days, or until the extraction site has started to close up significantly. Milkshakes, yogurt, scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, and other soft cool foods are ideal initially. Your child can then slowly reintroduce regular foods as tolerated over the next week.

Picture of Kidzoot Team

Kidzoot Team

Parenting tips and tricks from experts with years of experience in child rearing. Get practical advice and fun activities to enjoy with your kids from our team of parents and educators.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *