Even though during the baby years it takes months of fussy, drooly days and long, sleepless nights to grow teeth (aka, teething), the process of losing baby teeth is usually considerably easier and more exciting. Children begin losing their baby teeth when adult teeth (or permanent teeth) begin growing in and pushing the baby teeth out. Just like teething, the age to begin losing teeth varies with each child, beginning as early as age four and ending as late as age fifteen. Teeth usually fall out in a similar order to how they grew in, with front teeth going first, then the canines, and finally the molars. In addition to deciding how you’ll handle the Tooth Fairy, here are a few tips on what to do when your child starts losing teeth.
1. Encourage wiggling. Your child will likely wiggle the loose tooth with his or her fingers or tongue frequently, and that’s ok! This will help the tooth continue to get looser until it’s ready to come out. We do not recommend pulling the tooth, but instead letting it fall out naturally. This often happens when your child is eating or wiggling it around. Pulling a loose tooth that isn’t quite ready to come out risks damaging the roots or gums and can cause unnecessary discomfort and even infection.
2. Prepare your child for what will happen. Especially if this is your child’s first loose tooth, it is a good idea to prepare him or her for what will happen when the tooth comes out. Most children report that losing a tooth doesn’t hurt at all, but assure your child even if there is slight discomfort, is shouldn’t last long. Warn your child that there may be some bleeding when the tooth comes out, but the bleeding should not last more than an hour. If your child goes to school with a loose tooth, consider sending him or her with a baggie to put the tooth in if it comes out at school.
3. Swish with warm water. When your child loses the tooth, simply have him or her swish his mouth with warm water and then spit out the bloody water. Your child can repeat this several times until the bleeding stops. Another option is for your child to bite on a wet cloth until the bleeding stops.
4. Continue practicing good oral hygiene. Although taking care of baby teeth and establishing healthy habits is very important, once your child’s permanent teeth begin growing in it is even more crucial that he practices good oral hygiene. Remind your child that these are the teeth that she will have for life, and it is very important to take care of them so they will remain healthy and strong. Ensure your child is in the habit of brushing his teeth every morning and every night, as well as flossing at least once a day. When your child is young and still new to this routine, it may be a good idea to supervise and assist when needed. Establishing these habits now will greatly impact your child’s future oral health. In addition to these daily habits, make sure your child is visiting his or her dentist for a routine checkup twice a year. We would love to help your child have a happy and healthy smile, so please schedule an appointment today!