By the time a child is 3 years old, they normally have all of their baby teeth. These teeth stay in place for a few years, and then around the age of 5 or 6, they begin to fall out and make space for the permanent teeth that will soon grow in! The process of baby teeth falling out and adult teeth coming in is very sensitive and should not be forced by any means. As tempting as it is to pull at a loose tooth, it is generally discouraged to apply any force at all. A child will naturally play with the tooth and wiggle it around enough to the point where it will dislodge on its own, so most times, adult intervention is completely unnecessary!
What to look for, and when to be concerned
Resisting the urge to yank it out is recommended for a few reasons, including risk of infection and damage to adult teeth. If a tooth is not ready to come out, forcing it can cause harm to the adult teeth that are on the verge of coming in. When a tooth is ready to fall out, the roots will dissolve completely allowing the process to be completely painless. If it is forced, there’s a chance of breaking part of the tooth or exposing roots that can lead to infection. In addition, there’s the possibility that it may have been knocked loose. Perhaps your child fell on it or was playing too rough and someone else knocked it loose. There’s no telling what the situation might be! Generally, your child’s baby teeth will fall out in the order that they came in. If you find that a tooth is loose that does not seem to be in the right order, there is a good chance that it is not ready to come out. If pain is associated with touching it, leave the tooth alone and call your dentist, as applying pressure could hurt the vulnerable roots and cause damage.
What if the tooth is dangling?
In some cases, children just cannot handle the annoyance of a wiggling tooth. If the tooth is dangling and there is no pain when it is pressed on, it is fine to use a tissue, wrap it around the tooth, and squeeze gently. Do not pull too hard or pull up. If it is ready to come out, softly squeezing it will be enough for it to dislodge. If the tooth is resistant, leave it alone and let it come out naturally. Some parents worry about their child swallowing the tooth by accident, which does happen! In this case, there is typically no need for concern. Baby teeth are so small that they are harmless if ingested.
If you are uncertain about the state of your child’s loose baby teeth, make an appointment with us today! We can examine the tooth and ensure that no damage has been done, as well as monitor the adult teeth as they come in. Establishing great oral health habits starts from a young age, and ensuring that your child’s primary teeth stay healthy is a great foundation for future dental success.