Children and Loose Teeth: What You Should Know

Boy at Children's Dentist

Children and Loose Teeth: What You Should Know

When it comes to your child’s teeth, you only want the best for them. While every parent knows that their child will lose their baby teeth as they get older, it can still be surprising the first time you discover that one of their teeth is loose.

That’s why we’re here to provide you with answers to some of the more common questions parents have about their children’s loose teeth. Hopefully, these answers will help you feel a little more at ease as your children begin to see their adult teeth grow in!

At What Age Do Children Start Losing Teeth?

While the average age for a child to start losing their teeth is around six years old, there is actually a surprisingly wide age range for loose teeth to start appearing.

Children as young as four may start to experience loose teeth, while others may not start to lose their baby teeth until they’re eight.

For the most part, you can expect your child’s baby teeth to be entirely gone around age 12, although in some cases, they may remain longer. If your child still has some of their baby teeth by 13, you should discuss your options with your dentist.

In What Order Does a Child Lose Their Teeth?

In most cases, the first teeth your child will lose will be the two lower central incisors, or the bottom front teeth, followed by the upper central incisors. The next teeth to leave are the first molars, then the canine teeth, followed by the second molars.

While this is a fairly typical pattern, your child’s tooth loss may differ, and that’s okay.

There are a number of reasons why your child’s teeth may fall out in a different order. Poor dental hygiene can lead to tooth decay, which can cause baby teeth to fall out prematurely. Alternatively, your child’s tooth may have experienced trauma, which happens frequently with children who play sports or are very active.

If you have concerns about the order your child is losing their teeth, you should make sure to bring them to a pediatric dentist.

Can a Child’s Loose Tooth Become Infected?

Under normal circumstances, no, your child’s loose tooth will usually not become infected.

As the adult tooth begins to grow, it gradually dissolves the root of the baby tooth, which leads the baby tooth to loosen and, eventually, to fall out painlessly.

When infection becomes a problem is if you try to remove a loose tooth forcefully. You’ve probably seen cartoons in which a child who is anxious to get money from the tooth fairy ties a string to their loose tooth, then yanks hard on the string to dislodge the tooth.

In reality, trying to force a loose tooth that is not ready to come out can cause the remaining tooth root to snap off, remaining in the gums. This broken root can quickly become infected and can lead to gum irritation and swelling in the mouth.

If this is the case, then you need to see your dentist immediately so they can treat the infection.

Is My Child Losing Their Teeth Too Quickly?

While most children will gradually lose their baby teeth over the course of several years, it is possible for teeth to fall out either too soon or too quickly.

When teeth begin to fall out before the age of four, there is a potential that the adult tooth may not be ready to come in.

This can lead the adult tooth to “drift” in the open space, meaning it may come in crooked or misaligned and that can impact other teeth as well. As a result, it is likely that these children will need some form of orthodontic treatment to correct the problem.

The same is true for children who lose too many teeth at the same time. While there is no “correct” speed at which baby teeth should fall out, losing several teeth at once should be a sign for concern, as it may point to an underlying dental problem. Correcting that problem will give your child’s teeth a much brighter future!

My Child’s Loose Tooth Is Turning Gray—Is That Okay?

If you notice that your child’s loose tooth is turning gray, it’s most likely a sign that the tooth experienced some kind of trauma.

Most times, this trauma is the result of normal activities, including sports, horseplay, or simply falling down while walking, running, or jumping.

When a tooth experiences a traumatic impact, it can burst blood vessels within the tooth. This can lead to bleeding inside the tooth. Because the blood has nowhere else to go, it gets absorbed by the tooth itself.

This absorption leads to the gray color you’re noticing. Sometimes, the color will resolve on its own as the body heals, but other times, the discoloration will remain until the tooth falls out on its own and is replaced by an adult tooth.

If your child isn’t experiencing any related pain in the tooth, you shouldn’t be too concerned.

How Do You Get a Child’s Loose Tooth Out?

A loose tooth should naturally fall out on its own. But if a tooth has become so loose that it’s getting in the way of normal activity, it may be time to help it out a little bit.

First, though, please note that you should never force a loose tooth out—you could damage the root and cause significant problems.

If you need to try and remove a very loose tooth, you might start by having your child eat some crunchy foods, like an apple or celery. They may also be able to get the loose tooth to come out with normal flossing.

Finally, you can wrap some gauze around the loose tooth, then gently wiggle it back and forth until it comes free. Just remember — never use too much force!

Connect with a Pediatric Dentist

For help with all of your child’s pediatric dentistry needs, contact the professionals at San Diego Children’s Dentistry. Our goal is to start children on the path to good oral hygiene at an early age. Call us today to schedule your appointment!


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