Loose teeth can cause a bit of drama around the house. Some kids will get really excited and look for crazy ways to get that tooth out (remember the string and the doorknob method?). Other children will run away and try to protect their mouth from anyone who might try to give the loose tooth a tug. Each child is different, but you should know a few key things as your children start to lose their teeth.
When Should Your Child Start Losing Teeth? What Are the Warning Signs?
Most children will start losing teeth when they are around 5 or 6 years old. However, children who went through the teething process earlier than most will likely lose baby teeth earlier. The teeth should fall out in roughly the same order they came in. Most children will lose all of their teeth between the ages of 5 and 13. If baby teeth are still present after that age, a dentist or pediatric dentist may need to pull out the teeth in preparation for orthodontic care.
Tooth decay or other dental diseases can cause roots to rot and lead to early tooth loss as well. If a child loses a baby tooth before a permanent one is prepared to take its place, his or her back teeth may start to crowd forward, leading to orthodontic problems later on.
Your child will likely come to you when his or her first tooth is loose. However, in the event they are a bit shy about it, you may notice them playing with a tooth around dinnertime or avoiding one side of their mouth while eating.
How Do I Know If the Tooth Is Ready to Come Out?
No one knows the state of the tooth better than your own child. Once your child has a loose tooth, encourage them to wiggle it with their tongue or play with it to see how loose it is. Ask them to show you how far they can wiggle it before it starts to be uncomfortable.
If you reach in your child’s mouth to wiggle a loose tooth, be careful and listen to your child. Assure them you are just checking the tooth, and tell them that you will stop when they say it hurts. If the tooth is not ready to come out, pushing or pulling it too hard can cause pain. Always thoroughly wash your hands before putting them into anyone’s mouth, including your own.
If a tooth is pulled too soon, you run the risk of tearing the root of the tooth and increase the possibility of infection. If your child insists that the tooth is not loose enough to come out and you cannot visibly see that the assertion is false, believe them and wait.
Should I Pull the Tooth Out?
Ideally, you shouldn’t. Allowing a tooth to naturally fall out is always the best option. As your child wiggles and pushes on the tooth with his or her tongue, it will likely come out on its own. You can also encourage your child to actively try to remove the tooth with their tongue if you notice that it is barely hanging on.
If a tooth is so close to falling out on its own that it is interfering with your child’s daily life (if he or she refuses to eat or brush their teeth, for example), it is okay to help a little. Use a tissue to grip the tooth and gently pull. If that gentle pull is not enough, the tooth is not ready. You might want to distract a hesitant child by telling them to sneeze or sing when you pull.
If a tooth is ready to come out, your child’s gums will usually bleed very little. Make sure to place sterile gauze in the mouth after the tooth falls out.
If you notice permanent teeth growing in behind your child’s baby teeth, you should schedule an appointment with a dentist. Do not pull it out on your own, especially if the baby tooth is not already loose. This is a common and completely reversible condition that has been nicknamed “sharking” since sharks have multiple rows of teeth. Your dentist will be able to pull the tooth out safely and help ensure that the tooth will grow in place.
Some parents worry that their child will experience dramatic side-effects from swallowing a loose tooth while sleeping. If your child does swallow a tooth, it is not a big deal. Millions of teeth have been swallowed before without any ill effects. Stomach acid will dissolve the tooth, or it will naturally pass through your child’s system.
While it may seem dramatic or scary for your child to lose their first tooth, it is all a natural process. In fact, for many children, it is even seen as a rite of passage among their friends. Take a deep breath, relax, and let nature run its course. Don’t hesitate to call your dentist at Abougoush Family Dental Care if you have any concerns.