Parenting tends to involve a lot of checking whether your child is meeting all the big milestones on time. One of the biggest moments – almost as big as when that first little tooth arrived – is your child’s first visit from the tooth fairy.
But in the same way that it might have taken a while for some teeth to show up (only for them to then sprout four new teeth overnight!) the process of losing baby teeth isn’t always regular. As such, it’s important to stay calm if your child seems to be losing teeth at a slower or faster rate than others.
Still, it helps to know whether your child’s tooth loss is basically on track. Here’s our guide to explain more about what to expect.
The Average Timeline for Losing Baby Teeth
As your pediatric dentist will tell you, every child follows their own timeline when it comes to the appearance and loss of their baby teeth. As a rule, babies begin to gain teeth at around six months of age, with new teeth forming up until they are about three. By then they will have around 20 regular baby teeth to crunch, bite, and chew their food with.
From around the age of six, your child will likely lose their first tooth. They’ll then go on to lose all of their baby teeth before they’re about 12 years old. This then makes way for the 32 permanent adult teeth your child will have by their late teens.
What many parents don’t realize until it starts happening is that baby teeth often fall out in the same order they came in. For example, your child likely got their bottom front teeth first aged between six and ten months, and these will be the first to fall out, at between six and seven years old. The top front teeth will follow, while molars toward the top back will be the last to go.
Does Every Child Follow This Timeline?
This timeline offers a general guide since the process can vary so much between children. If your child’s teeth were slow to come through, you might find that they start losing their teeth a little later or at a slower pace.
That said, a child missing their dental milestones by a year or more is a cause for concern. If your child still has yet to lose any of their baby teeth by the time they turn seven, you should speak to your child’s pediatric dentist.
Losing teeth from a much younger age is also problematic. This is because baby teeth act as guides, helping the permanent adult teeth know where to erupt to ensure a healthy alignment.
Losing a baby tooth years before the permanent tooth underneath is ready can disrupt the whole alignment of adult teeth in that area. Without treatment, this will result in a need for extensive orthodontic treatment.
The Tooth Loss Process
Here’s what to expect at every stage of the tooth loss process:
Losing Baby Teeth
For the most part, a tooth will begin to feel loose a few weeks before it falls out. Over time, it will become looser and wiggly. Some baby teeth will then become loose enough to fall out on their own, while others may need some help.
It’s to be expected that kids will play with their loose teeth, moving them about with their tongues or fingers. This behavior is fine since it encourages the roots to let go of the tooth. But you should warn your child not to pull or tug on the tooth. Excessive force can make a tooth come out before it’s ready, causing bleeding and pain, and increasing the potential for infection.
Once the tooth falls out, it’s normal for your child to experience gum irritation and even some superficial bleeding. Applying pressure to the socket for a few minutes with sterile gauze should be more than enough to stop it. If there’s a lot of blood or the bleeding continues after a couple of minutes, however, keep the gauze on the socket and call your dentist right away.
Baby teeth falling out shouldn’t cause your child any pain, although they may prefer a diet of soft foods for the rest of the day. To avoid provoking the open socket, encourage your child not to use it when chewing for about a week.
Growing Permanent Teeth
Before long, you should start to see a new tooth coming through as each baby tooth that falls out is soon replaced by a permanent one. This process can get a little out of sync, though.
Sometimes, permanent teeth can emerge as a second row before the baby teeth come out. Other times, a baby tooth may fall out long before the permanent tooth is ready. In some cases, your child’s pediatric dentist may need to use space maintainers or pull baby teeth to ensure the correct alignment of the emerging permanent teeth.
Maintaining Good Oral Hygiene
Although it can get a little tricky, your child should keep up with regular oral hygiene during the tooth loss process. With open sockets, there’s a greater risk of infection so you should double-check their brushing and flossing routines. Especially if they seem a little squeamish about their missing tooth or become more reluctant to clean their teeth than before.
It’s also extra important to schedule regular dental appointments when your child is transitioning from baby to adult teeth. As such, it’s vital to find the right pediatric dentist from the start. This allows your child and their dentist to build a good relationship, but it also makes it a lot easier for the dentist to stay up to date with your child’s dental developments and ensure that their permanent teeth are emerging as they should.
Your Guide to Losing Baby Teeth
As this guide shows, the process of losing baby teeth tends to start around age six and finish before a child is 12. But between these ages, the rate of tooth loss can depend a lot on the child’s own timeline.
While it helps to know what to expect, it’s important to ensure that your child maintains proper dental hygiene and attends regular dental visits throughout the process and beyond. This ensures that your child’s permanent teeth will be in healthy shape long after their baby teeth are gone.
Looking to find out more about our services or schedule an appointment? Feel free to contact us at Grow Pediatric Dentistry with any questions, queries, or requests!