What Are Baby Teeth and When do Kids Start Losing Teeth?
Baby teeth will start to get loose and fall out when your child reaches age six, but this can be earlier or later, depending on their own physiology. You should not worry about the process too much, but if you do have any questions or concerns, check with your dentist.
Congratulations on becoming a new parent! So many changes are going to happen these next few months, and that includes the eruption of your kid’s first teeth. You may have some questions about this process, and you may also have heard that teething is painful. We’ll dive into that as well as talk about when kids start losing teeth. Baby teeth also called deciduous teeth don’t last long before the permanent teeth grow in. And sadly, unlike sharks, those are the only two sets of teeth we humans get for our lifetime.
Teething starts about six to 12 months of age, but some babies can teethe as early as three months, and some have even been born with teeth! Signs of teething include an increase in drooling, irritability, having a hard time sleeping, and needing to suck on their toys or fingers to alleviate the discomfort. The gums will be tender due to the primary tooth pushing through the gums. They may even run a fever. Ice chips are great, as are teething rings to chew on. Avoid any sugary snacks or candy.
The first child’s teeth to come in are the bottom front teeth and the upper front two teeth, called incisors. By the time they are done, they will have 20 teeth, compared to the 32 adult teeth they will have later on.
Kids won’t keep their teeth for long – in just a few years their baby teeth fall out.
Why and how do kids lose their baby teeth?
As our jaws grow, we need to have more teeth to chew our food properly and fit better in the jaw, so the baby teeth or primary teeth will start to fall out around age 6. It is not, however, unusual for this process to be off by as much as a year or two in either direction. Girls will generally start to lose their baby teeth sooner than boys do, and some children who have genetic disorders like Down Syndrome may lose their teeth later.
Kids will usually start to lose the two lower front teeth first followed by the upper front teeth. These are called central incisors. Next will be the lateral incisors, or the teeth just to either side of the two center teeth. The process of losing teeth will work its way back through the canines by about age 8. Around age 6, a set of molars will grow in. A child loses all of their molars between ages 10 and 12. The baby teeth will almost always be replaced by the permanent teeth right away. This process does not usually hurt, although sometimes there may be some discomfort when the molars or later the wisdom teeth erupt. These typically can be treated with some over-the-counter pain relievers.
You might wonder how baby teeth are lost. Generally speaking, as the adult tooth starts to push up, there are signals sent to trigger the loss of the root on the baby tooth, so it becomes loose and easier to wiggle out and remove.
Sometimes kids are born with extra teeth. If you find that your child has reached the age of seven and hasn’t lost a tooth yet, have your dentist do an X-ray to see what is going on in there. If there are extra teeth or the adult teeth are impacted, they will need to do some extractions to move things along.
What happens if baby teeth don’t fall out correctly?
If a baby tooth falls out early and the permanent tooth is not yet ready to fill in, the other permanent teeth can drift to close the gap and crowd out the tooth that is supposed to be in that space, or the teeth will remain crooked.
Children lose baby teeth too soon if the teeth suffer from decay due to poor oral care, or if your child falls and snaps off or knocks out a tooth.
Contrary to what you might have seen in movies or TV shows, or heard as urban legends, you really shouldn’t try to speed the process of removing the loose tooth along. Some people think you should tie a string around it and then to the doorknob before slamming the door. Others will use pliers (!). When the tooth is ready, it should actually come out pretty easily and not bleed a lot. Trying to pull out a primary tooth before it is ready may actually lead to some gum damage or break off the root and lead to infection. But, it is ok for your child to wiggle it with a finger or their tongue.
Sometimes it happens where the adult teeth don’t wait for the child’s teeth to fall out first and they go ahead and come in. This can lead to alignment and crowding problems.
What happens if adult teeth don’t have enough room?
If your child isn’t losing teeth the way that he or she should, your dentist may extract the baby teeth to get them out, and then refer you to an orthodontist who specializes in orthodontia for kids. Orthodontists have a variety of tools that they can use such as palate expanders to make the jaw slightly wider and give enough room for the adult teeth to slide into place, or they might put a set of braces on to gently guide the teeth where they need to be. They can even use braces or other appliances like spacers to keep teeth in a certain place while the adult teeth grow in.
How can kids take care of their teeth?
It is really important to take care of those baby teeth so that they will not suffer from early decay and fall out prematurely, and so that they can be healthy and not allow bacteria to grow that then get below the gum line and cause damage to the permanent adult teeth. A good oral care routine starts with brushing their teeth twice a day. If your child is particularly young, you will want to help them, and also be sure that they do not swallow the toothpaste. Special kids’ brushes and toothpaste are available in flavors kids love. Sometimes, if the tooth is loose enough, it will actually come out while brushing.
This is a great time to teach your child how to floss correctly, too. Your dentist can also help with this.
Keep your dental appointments so that your kids can get the professional cleanings and assessments that they need for good oral health. Your first appointment should actually be when teeth start to appear, but at the latest, you should visit a pediatric dentist by age one.
This first visit will include a full exam to check the teeth and gums and make sure everything is growing incorrectly. Your dentist will also take a medical history to see if anything needs to be followed upon. They will clean the baby’s teeth and get you started on a good oral health care routine. They may even do a fluoride treatment if needed to help strengthen teeth and go over what to do at home for home care. Your dentist can also help you with thumb sucking or pacifier sucking habits and how to break them so your child doesn’t end up pushing their teeth out of alignment. Your dentist will also go over what a good diet looks like and how to help protect their teeth, both the baby teeth and as the adult teeth erupt.
A good healthy diet that is low in refined sugars and acids is important to not just their baby teeth but their overall health and well-being. Habits taught in childhood will last a lifetime. One very important thing you will want to make sure of is that your baby does not fall asleep with a bottle in his or her mouth. That constant presence of a sugary juice or milk is a prime feeder for bacteria that can lead to tooth decay.
Use a little cloth or gauze to clean your baby’s teeth and gums until you/they are able to start brushing their teeth.
All of these habits are great to help the baby’s teeth be healthy and also let the adult teeth grow strong. Plus, once your child has learned these habits, he or she is set to take care of their permanent teeth properly.
Should your child have sucked their thumb or used a pacifier long enough that the adult teeth or bite are not lined up correctly, your child’s dentist can refer you to an orthodontist who can help straighten them back out again.
From the first teeth coming into the visits from the tooth fairy, your child’s baby teeth have a big role to play in getting them ready to have their adult teeth grow in, and those teeth should be cared for as carefully as their adult teeth. When do kids start losing teeth? It varies by the child but the process usually starts around age 6. It is ok for your child to work on loosening their baby teeth to help them fall out, but don’t try to speed up the process faster than it should go. Good oral care will set your child up for success throughout the rest of his or her life, and make sure that the adult teeth are cared for from the start. It can be a whirlwind of a time, but make sure you take time to cherish all the moments with your child – they will go by so fast!
IVANOV Orthodontic Experts, 12866 Biscayne Blvd, North Miami, FL 33181
Call us at (786) 540-1919 to schedule a free orthodontic exam.
Learn more about Can a Root Canal Cure Gum Infection and Pain? at https://ivanovortho.com/can-a-root-canal-cure-gum-infection-and-pain/