For a child, losing baby teeth is a tangible sign they are growing up. They compare notes with their friends on how many teeth they’ve lost and who lost what first. And while your child is excited to show off the space where a tooth used to be, you may be wondering what to expect.
Baby teeth are usually lost in the order they arrive: the bottom two incisors first, followed by the top two. Your child will probably begin losing his or her baby teeth around age five or six, though it can happen as young as four years old.
Essentially the root will dissolve as the adult tooth pushes out. Though baby teeth generally fall out naturally, they can also become stuck in food while eating and may accidentally be swallowed (which is harmless).
Things to Consider
• Never force or yank a loose tooth out! If the root has not completely dissolved, the tooth can break off and leave the root behind, which can cause infection.
• It’s best to encourage kids to wiggle loose teeth free themselves. If it’s hanging on by a thread, you can grab it with a tissue and gently rotate to remove it.
• Don’t worry about how big the adult teeth are. Your child’s head will continue to grow and the new teeth won’t look so big eventually.
• About the time your child’s baby teeth are falling out, their six-year molars are erupting. Gums may appear swollen and kids may complain. Over-the-counter analgesics should help.
• Baby teeth are whiter than adult teeth. The color difference will be less noticeable as more adult teeth arrive.
When to Call the Dentist
Definitely call our office if your child encounters any of the following situations:
• A baby tooth is lost too soon. Baby teeth are important placeholders for adult teeth. A space maintainer can keep other teeth from drifting or shifting into the gap. This helps keep the path clear for the adult tooth.
• Some kids develop two rows of teeth if an adult tooth erupts before a baby tooth falls out. The adult tooth should push the baby tooth out within a few weeks. If the condition persists for more than three months, give us a call.
• Call us if child has not begun losing his or her baby teeth by age seven. Though there probably isn’t an issue, it’s good to check. There is an advantage for late losers. Teeth are stronger after sitting longer in the jaw, making them more cavity resistant.
Even though it may be difficult to bite or chew with missing teeth, encourage your child to maintain a healthy diet. It’s also a great time to reinforce good dental habits such as brushing twice a day, flossing, limiting sugary treats and drinks, and keeping regular dental visits.