Children eventually have 20 baby (primary) teeth - 10 on the top and 10 on the bottom. These teeth act as placeholders for the adult teeth that take their place after the baby teeth fall out. Most children begin to lose their baby teeth at six years old, and this process continues into their early teens.
The primary teeth are usually lost in the order that they come in, so the bottom two teeth are first, followed by the top two. Most parents ask what should be done with a loose tooth?
Dr. Frank Sierra tells patients, "It is better for a loose tooth to come out on its own. Removing it early can be uncomfortable for the child and has an infection risk for the soft tissues and gums. The nerve will dissolve naturally if the tooth is loose because it is set to be replaced by an adult tooth."
He adds "If they feel comfortable, it is OK to let your child wiggle the baby tooth until it falls out on its own. They should be prompted to have clean hands while doing so."
In some cases a baby tooth can become loose due to decay or damage, and this can lead to poor timing and spacing of permanent teeth. This is one of the reasons that we recommend consulting with your dentist about any loose teeth.
We also get questions about accidental tooth swallowing. Dr. Mark Dawoud calms parents by saying, "Although not a part of the plan, a swallowed tooth is harmless and will naturally pass. The tooth fairy will understand if there isn't a tooth to place under the child's pillow."
Your children depend on you to provide the proper example, tools, and resources for their oral health. Do continue to learn as much as possible about the development of their teeth and the best ways to maintain a happy and healthy smile. Dr. Dawoud summarizes that, "Our pediatric dentists are always happy to help guide you and to give your child more awareness and enthusiasm for their oral hygiene, and we have five offices to serve you better."