Children lose baby teeth on their own schedule, so try not to worry if your child loses a tooth earlier or later than you would expect. Likewise, some baby teeth come out easily, while others are a bit more stubborn. Still, it is important to have a general idea of what to expect. Whatever happens with your child’s baby teeth, remember that kids tend to reflect adults’ emotions. Project calmness and happiness throughout the process, and your child will likely view the experience as a positive one.
In general, most kids start losing their baby teeth between the ages of five or seven. It can take five to seven years for all of the baby teeth to fall out and the majority of permanent teeth to emerge. However, the wisdom teeth may not come in until young adulthood, between the ages of 17 and 21.
The baby teeth normally fall out in the same order that they emerged, starting with the bottom front teeth, moving on to the top front teeth, and then moving down the jawline in order. Kids who got their baby teeth very early may start losing them as early as age four, while those who were late to start teething may not lose their first tooth until age eight.
The process of losing baby teeth is different for every child, and even every tooth. In general, though, the child will start to notice a slight wiggling in the tooth a few weeks before it is ready to come out. Gradually, the tooth will become looser and looser. Eventually, it might fall out on its own, or you or your child may need to help it along.
How You Can Help
Many kids naturally play with loose teeth, gently wiggling them with their tongues or fingers. This common behavior is good, as it encourages the tooth roots to let go. However, be sure to caution your child against pulling the tooth out before it is ready, as this can lead to pain, bleeding, and infection.
If the tooth is very loose, you or your child can pull it out. Use clean fingers or sterile gauze, and apply a very slight pulling pressure. If the tooth does not come out with minimal effort, wait a few days before trying again.
When the tooth comes out, slight bleeding and gum irritation is common. Use sterile gauze to apply pressure to the tooth socket for a few minutes. The bleeding associated with losing a baby tooth is typically slight and superficial, provided you have waited until the tooth was ready to come out. Never use string or other methods to pull a still-attached baby tooth. If bleeding is more than slight, use gauze to put pressure on the area until the bleeding stops and call the dentist as soon as possible.
Pain is usually minimal or nonexistent. If your child complains of irritation, though, consider switching to a soft diet for the rest of the day. Encourage your child not to chew directly on that spot for a day or two.
Maintaining Oral Health
Maintaining oral hygiene with a loose tooth can be tricky, but it is vitally important. Make sure your child is brushing and flossing as normal. You might need to supervise brushing a little more carefully than usual, especially if your child seems squeamish about the loose tooth.
Make sure your child keeps up with his or her regular dentist appointments throughout the process of losing baby teeth. The dentist will ensure that the permanent teeth are properly aligned and emerging as they should.
In most cases, a baby tooth falls out and is quickly followed by the emergence of the permanent replacement. Sometimes, though, the process gets a little out of whack. Permanent teeth can emerge in a second row before the baby teeth fall out, or a baby tooth can fall out before its permanent replacement is ready. It is especially important to see the dentist if either of these conditions occur, as the dentist can use spacers or pull baby teeth if needed to give the permanent teeth enough room.
At Family Dental Care of Bellevue, we are committed to providing quality dental care to our patients and their families. We are proud to have been voted one of the best dental offices in Washington State. If you are ready to take the first steps toward improving your dental health, we invite you to call 425-643-5778 today to make an appointment for your initial consultation.