As a parent, seeing your child’s “firsts” is always a huge milestone for both of you. Whether they take their first steps, say their first word, or lose their first tooth, there’s always something to celebrate as your little one grows up.
Once your son or daughter reaches the age where their baby teeth begin to fall out, usually around five or six-years-old, you might not know how to handle it as a parent. Their baby teeth will slowly begin to loosen out of their sockets as the roots dissolve and prepare their mouth for their new permanent teeth.
As a parent, it’s best to know how to help your child during the process of losing their teeth and making sure you’re aware of the next steps for their dental health. If you have a young one and their tooth loss days are approaching, read through this guide so you can be fully prepared.
Losing Their First Tooth
Teeth will typically fall out in the same order as they first grew in. Dr. Joe Thomas says that children initially grow in their front two bottom teeth, so those will be the first of their baby teeth to fall out. The last teeth most kids will lose are their second molars around the ages of ten and 12-years-old.
Baby teeth typically don’t start to loosen until their adult, permanent teeth push them out so they can take their place. In some cases, kids will lose their baby teeth without seeing their permanent ones grow in yet. Other children’s adult teeth might even grow in while they still retain their baby teeth– this is known as shark teeth.
In these instances, don’t worry too much. Just give your child’s developing process more time. However, if nearly six months have passed and you’re still worried, you can always contact their dentist.
Tips for Wiggly Teeth
When your child first notices a wiggly tooth, it can take just a few days or a couple of months to completely fall out. It’s uncommon for your little one to feel any pain as their teeth loosen, but if they do experience some, you can give them ibuprofen or Advil to ease the pain.
Additional tips to keep in mind to ensure your child’s tooth loss journey goes smoothly are:
- Follow a healthy food plan or a soft food diet if they complain it’s hard to chew.
- Encourage them to gently wiggle their tooth if it’s wobbly.
- Remind your child not to yank a tooth if it’s not ready to come out.
- Make sure they’re still brushing and flossing regularly.
Aftercare for Their Grown-Up Smile
When your youngster is in the process of losing all their baby teeth, it’s likely that their smile will appear gummier along the way. This is because their permanent teeth sometimes remain below their gums and don’t grow in right away.
Once their teeth do fall out, whether or not their adult ones have grown in yet, you should make sure they take good care of their overall dental health. To do so, your son or daughter should:
- Rinse their mouth with warm water after the tooth has fallen out
- Continue to gently brush with a child-friendly toothpaste
- Avoid brushing too hard against any gaps between teeth
- Don’t give them too much sugar or drinks like soda that can cause cavities
- Practice good oral hygiene with them so they can get in a steady routine
Once your kid’s adult teeth begin to grow in, they’ll appear bigger and generally less white than their baby teeth. You’ll also notice each tooth has more profound ridges along their tops, which is completely normal and known as tooth mamelons.
Don’t Forget About Tooth Fairy Visits
An exciting time for kids when they lose a tooth is putting it under their pillow at night so the tooth fairy can come and leave money for them. This is a good tradition to begin in your family because it can get your child excited about their tooth loss journey and encourage them to implement good dental habits from a young age.
There are plenty of ideas you can share with your son or daughter about the tooth fairy. Sometimes, you might have to get creative with your story if their tooth falls out unexpectedly and the tooth fairy can’t make it to their house that night.
However you choose to share the tooth fairy experience with your child, they’ll be sure to keep up with good dental habits in order to see a reward in the end.
What If Their Teeth Don’t Fall Out?
Many parents begin to worry when their child reaches seven, or almost eight-years-old, and they haven’t lost any of their baby teeth yet. In this case, Dr. Charles Bauer suggests it’s best to take them to the dentist to ensure their teeth are actually under their gums and confirm that their tooth loss process is just a bit delayed. They might even need the help of their dentist to safely and properly pull their wiggly tooth out.
In other situations, your child may have a bad habit or sleep complication that’s affecting their baby and adult teeth. Learn what these possible issues might be so you know how to handle them.
Potential Problems with Your Child’s Tooth Loss Journey
- Baby Bottle Tooth Decay: Although your baby’s primary teeth are temporary, they still have the capability of decaying from their baby bottle or shared saliva from their feeding spoon or pacifier. This is known as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay and will most likely affect their upper front teeth and impact the health of their permanent teeth. To avoid this, try not to share saliva or put sugar in their bottle, properly clean their teeth, and encourage healthy eating habits.
- Dental Emergency: Having a little one means accidents are likely to happen. If your child has a tooth knocked out or a cracked tooth, visit their dentist right away to ensure you save their adult teeth.
- Thumbsucking: If your child sucks on their thumb, fingers, or pacifier once their adult teeth come in, it can cause problems with their bite and tooth alignment. Try to encourage them not to suck their thumb and praise them when they don’t.
- Space Maintainers: Some kids lose their baby teeth prematurely before their permanent teeth aren’t quite ready to grow in. This can influence other adult teeth to erupt into the open spaces and decrease the amount of room in their mouth for their other teeth. Space maintainers help hold the space between their teeth for proper development.
- Teeth Grinding: Sleep plays an important role in a child’s growth and development. If your child is grinding their teeth at night due to stress or misalignment, it can impact their quality of sleep and prevent their baby teeth from falling out. Dentists like Dr. Trish Takacs can provide your little one with a sleep oral appliance to correct their problem.
Has Your Little One Lost a Tooth Yet?
If the time of your son or daughter’s first loose tooth is approaching, knowing how to handle it and being prepared for any potential problems is crucial. You also want to be sure to set a good example for them, so once their adult teeth grow in, they’re properly taking care of their oral health. It won’t be long until your little one grows up and has a brand new, complete smile.