Losing your baby teeth is a right of passage for all children, but you may not know what to do with a loose tooth when something seems slightly abnormal. Maybe it seems like it’s taking forever to fall out, or perhaps it has fallen out too soon. Or maybe you notice that your child’s tooth is loose after a bit of rough-housing in the backyard. Any of these scenarios could mean that you need to seek treatment for a loose tooth from your pediatric dentist.
First, however, let’s examine what a “normal” loose tooth looks like.
When A Baby Tooth Becomes Loose
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 chomp, 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 begin to dissolve, and the teeth will loosen in the order in which they came in. Under normal circumstances, when the material is completely dissolved, the tooth becomes loose and wiggly until it falls out painlessly.
Sometimes, enterprising youngsters may need 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.
The baby teeth are 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 forcefully remove a baby tooth that isn’t ready could also snap the weakening root, leaving part of it in the gum line to become infected.
Safe Ways To Help A Loose Tooth
When your child wants to know what to do with a loose tooth, there are some safe ways to help the process along. Emphasize that patience is important, not just for the right of passage of tooth loss, but for their long-term dental health. Here are three great ways they can gently speed the process along:
- Get The Wiggles Out: Wiggling a 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 fine 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 the tooth is loose to the point where you’re concerned that it may fall out while eating and be swallowed, you can 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 Pediatric Dentist Immediately
While most children will lose their teeth without any assistance or complications, it’s important to know what to do with a loose tooth that doesn’t follow a normal pattern. If any of the following occur or you suspect they have occurred, call your pediatric dentist immediately:
- Tooth Loss Caused By Trauma: Kids will be kids, and playground accidents happen. If a tooth cannot be saved, your child may be fitted for a prosthetic 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 certain cases, the adult teeth may begin to come in without the baby teeth falling out, resulting in a double row of teeth. This requires intervention from your dentist.
- Complications Due To Tooth Drift: If a 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 with a loose tooth or need to schedule an appointment to check the progress of your child’s tooth development, contact Children’s Dentistry of Las Vegas today! Our friendly staff and experienced team of pediatric dentists look forward to treating your family in the Greater Las Vegas area.