All children will lose their baby teeth at some point, but what should you do as a parent when a child’s tooth is loose? And how do you know if something’s not quite right in the process? Maybe the child’s tooth is taking a look time to fall out, or perhaps it has fallen out too soon. Perhaps your toddler’s loose tooth came out after a bit of roughhousing in the backyard. Any of these scenarios could mean that you need to seek treatment for a loose tooth from your pediatric dentist.
Here’s what to expect in terms of a toddler’s loose tooth.
What to do When Your Child’s Tooth is Loose: Good Ideas
At 4-6 months of age, most children begin to get their baby teeth –– first the front two on the bottom gum, then the front two on the top, followed by the surrounding teeth. Behind these teeth, nestled below the gum line, are your child’s adult teeth. These baby teeth will be with your child for several years, letting them chew, bite, and mash their food as their jaw structure grows with them.
At some point, usually around five or six years of age (but possibly as early as four), your child will begin to lose their baby teeth. The root material of these teeth will start to dissolve, and the teeth will loosen in the order in which they came in. When the material is completely dissolved under normal circumstances, your toddler’s loose tooth will fall out painlessly.
What to do When Your Child’s Tooth is Loose: Bad Ideas
Sometimes, enterprising youngsters may want a little extra money from the Tooth Fairy, or a well-meaning adult may want to expedite the process. The old “string and doorknob” trick works in cartoons but is not a good idea in real life. In fact, it could leave you with a trip to the dentist for an emergency loose tooth treatment. This is the perfect example of what NOT to do when your child’s tooth is loose!
Your child’s baby teeth are important and designed to give proper mouth spacing until the adult teeth are ready to come in. If one comes out too early, this spacing could be affected, creating complications and pain when the adult teeth begin to emerge. Trying to remove a toddler’s loose tooth that isn’t ready forcefully could also snap the weakening root, leaving part of it in the gum line to become infected.
Other Safe Ways to Help
Parents want to communicate to their children about what to do when a tooth is loose, so here are some safe ways to help the process along. Emphasize that patience is essential, not just for the right of passage of tooth loss, but for their long-term dental health. Here are three great ways children can gently speed the process along:
- Get The Wiggles Out: Wiggling a toddler’s loose tooth is a great way to help loosen it further and encourage the root material to dissolve. Most children will fall into the habit of playing with the tooth with their tongue as it loosens just because it is an oddity in their mouth, and children are natural explorers. Fingers also tend to be used, which is okay with clean hands, but they need to be careful about being too rough with it.
- Emphasize Oral Hygiene: During this time, your child will be more susceptible to information related to oral hygiene habits. Talk about what’s happening in their mouth, what to do with a loose tooth, and the proper ways to brush, then put that information into action. Brushing will help loosen the tooth and stimulate the gums to help them fall out a little faster.
Step In If Necessary: When your toddler’s loose tooth is loose to the point where you’re concerned that it may fall out while eating and be swallowed, you can place a tissue over the super-loose tooth and squeeze gently. Often this will be the last nudge a recalcitrant tooth needs to fall out.
When To See Your Dentist Immediately
While most children will lose their teeth without any assistance or complications, it’s essential to know what to do when a child’s tooth is loose that doesn’t follow a typical pattern. If any of the following occurs or you suspect they have occurred, your child will need to see a dentist immediately:
- Tooth Loss Caused By Trauma: Kids will be kids, and playground accidents happen. If your toddler’s loose tooth cannot be saved, your child may be fitted for a prosthetic crown to maintain tooth spacing.
- Infection Caused By Broken Root: If there is swelling and irritation in the gums after a tooth was removed forcefully, a piece of root material may be lodged in the gum and infected.
- Doubled Teeth: In some instances, the adult permanent teeth may begin to grow behind the baby teeth, resulting in a double row of teeth. This occurrence, sometimes referred to as “shark teeth,” requires intervention from your dentist.
- Complications Due To Tooth Drift: If a toddler’s loose tooth was lost early and no measures are taken to maintain spacing, baby teeth can drift and block the adult teeth.
- Late Loss Of Baby Teeth: If no tooth has loosened by the age of seven, your child’s dentist should be consulted, as this could cause serious complications.
Contact Children’s Dentistry of Las Vegas
If you need any advice about what to do when a child’s tooth is loose or need to schedule an appointment to check your child’s tooth development progress, Contact Children’s Dentistry of Las Vegas today!