For a kid, losing baby teeth is the ultimate sign of growing up. They compare notes with their friends on how many teeth they’ve lost and who lost them first. And while your little one is just excited to show off the space where a tooth used to be, you may be wondering exactly what to expect about the departure of those deciduous teeth.
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 by themselves, they can also become stuck in food when your child is eating and may accidentally be swallowed (totally harmless, we promise).
So, what else is important to understand?
- NEVER, EVER force or yank a loose tooth out! If the root has not completely dissolved, the tooth can break off leaving the root behind, which can cause infection.
- It’s okay to wiggle. 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.
- They’re so BIG! Don’t worry. Adult teeth come in full size. Your kiddos head, however, will continue to grow!
- What’s with the color? Baby teeth are whiter than adult teeth. The color difference will be less noticeable as more adult teeth arrive.
- It hurts! 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.
Time to Call the Dentist
Your dentist has probably seen it all before, but definitely call the office if your child encounters one of the following:
- 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.
- Shark teeth! 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, make the call.
- Still not a loser. If child has not begun losing his or her baby teeth by age seven, consult your dentist. 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 including brushing twice a day, flossing, limiting sugary treats and drinks, and keeping regular dental visits.