There is excitement all around when a child loses their first baby tooth. The appearance of the first permanent tooth represents the next stage of a child’s life. But losing that first tooth is worrisome if it occurs too early or not soon enough. You might have concerns about when your child’s baby teeth should fall out. If so, here’s some info you can use.
Losing Baby Teeth
Children rarely do anything right on schedule. You can add losing baby teeth to that list. Most children typically lose their first tooth by the time they’re 6 or 7 years old. The baby teeth then continue to fall out following the order in which they grew. However, tooth loss can occur sooner or later than expected.
It’s not unheard of for a child to lose their first tooth before their fifth birthday. That first tooth might even stick around until the child is 8 years old. This isn’t how it typically occurs, but there’s usually no cause for alarm. In most cases, when a child loses the first tooth depends on when it grew.
The first tooth usually appears by the time a baby is 6 months old. But that cute little center tooth might show up at 3 months. It’s even possible the first tooth won’t appear until after you’ve celebrated baby’s first year. Keep track of when your child grows new baby teeth. This can give you an idea of when the child is likely to start losing teeth. The sooner the first tooth appears, the sooner it will fall out.
Possible Cause for Concern
As a general rule, tooth loss shouldn’t occur before the child’s fourth birthday. Losing a tooth that soon could indicate a problem. Losing the first tooth after the seventh birthday could also mean there’s a problem. In either case, you might want to consult an orthodontist for an examination and X-rays. There’s probably nothing wrong, but it doesn’t hurt to check.
A baby tooth should remain in place until a permanent tooth is ready to appear. The permanent tooth grows below the baby tooth. Eventually, the new tooth pushes the baby tooth out into the cold. It’s also possible that your child will experience premature tooth loss. This means a baby tooth has fallen out before the growth of a permanent tooth. Perhaps the child took a hard fall or got hit with a toy.
In addition to premature loss, delayed loss can indicate a problem as well. There is a rare occurrence in which a child develops a mesiodens. That’s a fancy way of saying the child has developed one or more extra teeth. The extra teeth can block permanent teeth, and prevent them from growing normally. This abnormality occurs in about 1% of the population, and it’s a main cause of delayed loss of baby teeth.
A child can also develop two rows of teeth. Some people refer to this as shark teeth, but that’s not very nice. The child isn’t turning into a shark. It just means the baby tooth didn’t fall out when the permanent tooth grew. The result is an extra set of teeth. If the baby tooth is loose, then your child can wiggle it out with their tongue. But if the extra tooth isn’t loose, then an extraction is possibly needed.
Other problems that can affect a child’s teeth include:
- Tooth Decay
- Gum Disease
- Thumb Sucking
The Tooth is Loose
What happens when a child is annoyed or curious about a loose tooth? More than likely, the child will shove their fingers into their mouth to yank at the tooth. They will continue to do this no matter how many times you tell them to stop. A wobbly tooth is annoying, but germ infested little hands should stay away. And yanking on a loose tooth can make the root prone to infection.
Reassure your child that the tooth will drop out when it’s ready. It will likely happen while the child is eating or sleeping. The child can also gently wiggle the tooth using their tongue.
Note that a loose tooth isn’t always an indicator of an incoming new tooth. It’s common for a tooth to get knocked loose during playtime or during a fall. Get the child’s tooth examined to make sure the permanent tooth isn’t damaged.
Visiting an Orthodontist
The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) suggests that a child see an orthodontist by the child’s seventh birthday. Contact Gorton and Schmohl Orthodontics today to schedule a complimentary consultation.
In Marin County, Calif., you can visit Gorton & Schmohl Orthodontics to have an examination and treatment from these professionals:
• Dr. Jasmine Gorton
• Dr. Bill Schmohl
An orthodontist will discuss orthodontic options with you to repair problems such as crowded teeth, crossbites or overbites. Depending on your malocclusions, you can wear one of these devices:
• Braces with colors
• Traditional or Damon Clear
We also offer WowSmiles and Acceledent options to our orthodontic patients. Schedule an appointment by calling 415-459-8006 today.
Gorton & Schmohl Orthodontics
900 Larkspur Landing Circle, Suite 200 Larkspur CA 94939 Tel: (415)-459-8006
Dr. Jasmine Gorton, a Bay Area native, graduated from UC Berkeley with Bachelor degrees in both Integrative Biology and Social Sciences and then went on to graduate from Harvard with honors for her Doctorate in Dental Medicine.
She continued her education at UCSF with a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Growth and Development, followed by an Orthodontic Residency with a Master of Science in Oral Biology.
She is Board Certified in Orthodontics. She received the American Association of Orthodontics Award for Craniofacial Research and the Harvard Odontological Society Award for Excellence in Research. Her work on preventing decay around braces has been published in the American Journal of Orthodontics.