Losing baby teeth is a rite of passage for kids and one significant step to becoming a grown up. So, what do you do when your child loses a tooth? We'll walk through oral health care for kids, when and why they lose teeth, and aftercare.
Oral Health in Children
The first signs of primary teeth (baby teeth) begin around six months and typically start on the front bottom section. The last signs of baby teeth happen around the age of 3 and usually occur in the upper back of the mouth. Primary teeth have ten on the top and ten on the bottom, while permanent teeth (adult teeth) are 32, with 16 on both the top and the bottom.
Why do baby teeth matter if they fall out? It's an important question to answer as teeth are used for eating, speaking, and smiling. Baby teeth help keep space within the jaw before adult teeth show up.
- Loss of Primary Teeth: Typically, teeth fall out in the order they come in, so it’s common for the two bottom teeth to go first. The rate at which a tooth falls out depends on the tooth root and when it dissolves, meaning it can take days, weeks, or months for a tooth to fall out.
- Wiggly Teeth: It’s best to let your child wiggle the tooth until it falls out, as it will minimize pain and bleeding. The more a child wiggles their tooth, the faster it will fall out. If your child is okay with you removing their tooth, wrap a tissue around the tooth and gently squeeze - this should pop the tooth out.
- Cavities: It’s common for kids (and some adults) to develop cavities due to sugary foods and beverages. Although we recommend not to touch a tooth unless necessary, if there is a high history of decay, a tooth with a stain, or beginning stages of a cavity, we suggest a Preventative Resin Restoration (PRR) filling material, which will last longer than a sealant and it's a better option for the affected tooth.
Note: If you notice that a new tooth hasn’t appeared after six months of a missing tooth, see your child's dentist for further evaluation.
3 Tips for Children's Oral Health
You’ll want to keep your child's oral health in excellent condition, as well as provide healthy habits they can carry on throughout their life. Here are three tips for your child’s oral health routine:
- Brushing and Flossing: The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that "children use a smear of toothpaste (the size of a grain of rice) from the time the first tooth erupts until age 3 years. After that point, from 3 years to 6 years, children should use a pea-sized amount of paste." As most kids swallow toothpaste at this age, you can introduce fluoride toothpaste when they are old enough not to swallow. Once you notice that two teeth are touching together, begin flossing once a day. Regular brushing and flossing helps to develop healthy oral habits at an early age.
- Regular Dental Visits: Starting at age 3, children should have their first dental visit unless there is concern from the parent.
- Make It Fun: You can make oral health a fun thing! Whether it’s with unique toothpaste flavors or creating an activity to help keep up with daily routines, instilling healthy habits is crucial at a young age. Plus, there is no rulebook that states brushing and flossing can’t be fun!
At What Age Does a Child Lose Teeth?
You may be wondering, at what age will my child lose their teeth? The American Dental Association states that by the time a child turns five or six, they will typically experience the loss of their first tooth. When teeth begin to wiggle, some kids tend to get very excited about losing teeth, while others find it scary. Letting your child know that losing teeth is a regular part of life may help them ease any discomfort they are facing. It's also important to note that everyone has a different “dental age” and it’s ok if their child loses a tooth before 5 or doesn’t lose a tooth until they're 7. Every child is unique and loses teeth at different rates!
Aftercare For Tooth Loss
Once your little one has lost a tooth, have them rinse or gargle with warm water or have them gently bite on a damp washcloth as the pressure will help stop any bleeding. As your child begins to grow permanent teeth, encourage them to keep up with daily routines of brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. It’s also important to talk about healthy eating habits such as avoiding soda and acidic foods that cause tooth damage.Looking to schedule an appointment for your child? Request an appointment today!