Around 6 years old, children start shedding their baby teeth to make way for permanent teeth. This is a huge developmental milestone and a reason to celebrate your child’s growth!
As your child’s teeth loosen up, you may wonder if you should help them shed – or let nature decide when it’s time for each one to retire. Your team at Kids Smiles Pediatric Dentistry has the answers for you!
Here’s what you need to know about pulling out a loose baby tooth:
Should you pull a loose tooth?
No, you shouldn’t pull a loose tooth when it first loosens up – as tempting as it may be. When a baby tooth becomes loose, it can be more challenging for your child to eat and speak properly. This may lead you to believe that pulling it out is in your child’s best interest.
After all, the old ‘tie floss around your loose tooth and slam the door’ trick is something every child needs to experience, right? As it turns out, pulling loose teeth can actually be harmful – and pretty painful!
Teeth may become loose for a number of reasons, not just because they’re ready to shed. If the tooth became loose due to an injury, and you pull it out, this could be painful, cause excessive bleeding, and possibly lead to permanent dental damage.
It’s best to let nature run its course and decide when your child’s tooth is ready to come out. While you shouldn’t pull the loose tooth out (until it’s 100% ready), there are ways you can support the process and encourage the loose tooth to shed!
How to Get a Loose Tooth Out
First, let’s take a look at nature’s process for ejecting baby teeth:
- The underlying permanent tooth starts to grow, loosening the baby tooth above.
- The permanent tooth starts to absorb the root of the baby tooth, while pushing the baby tooth upward.
- About 6 months after the baby tooth loosens up, the permanent tooth will have absorbed the entire baby tooth root.
- Once the baby tooth has been pushed out of the gums, the gum tissue is the only thing holding it in place. This is when the baby tooth is ready to come out!
When the tooth can be twisted nearly 360 degrees, without pain, it’s ready to be removed! This is when you can apply very gentle pressure to try to remove the tooth. If your child is in pain, stop pulling the tooth and try one of these tricks:
- Have your child bite into an apple. The pressure needed to bite into an apple will likely be enough to pop the tooth out!
- Your child can try brushing and/or flossing his or her teeth to encourage the tooth to detach too!
- If your child asks for help removing the tooth, and they’re not experiencing pain, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that you wash your hands, place a paper towel over the tooth, and gently squeeze it. If the tooth is ready, it’ll pop right out!
Teeth that are 100% ready to leave the mouth should have little to no blood, and should not be painful to remove.
How to handle tissue left behind after baby tooth comes out
It’s possible that your child is left with a piece of gum tissue hanging after the baby tooth comes out. This is common and usually does not require attention.
Don’t try to pull the gum tissue out. This can be painful and dangerous if you remove healthy gum tissue. Instead, let the piece come off naturally. Ensure that your child is brushing and flossing his or her teeth twice daily to keep the gums clean and healthy.
By eating, brushing, and flossing normally, the gum tissue should detach on its own! If the gum tissue hangs around for too long or it’s bothering your child, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here to help you and your child as her or she reaches each milestone! We will schedule an appointment for you to see one of our experienced pediatric dentists who can advise you on the best plan of action.
Still have questions about how to handle loose baby teeth?
We’re here to answer your questions, and we want you and your child to know your options! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at any time.
Dr. Sierra, Dr. Kwon, Dr. Patel and our team are here to help guide you and your child. We offer kinder, gentler dentistry for kids and teens. It is our goal that your child develops and maintains a positive association with dental care and we do everything we can to create a pleasant, supportive, and fun environment for our little patients.