What To Do When Your Child Loses That First Tooth

What To Do When Your Child Loses That First Tooth

For most children, their memories of losing their first tooth may be a little bit of surprise, then a visit from the Tooth Fairy down the line. For many parents, it means something more, yet another indicator that their child is growing up. While the process is normally a pretty painless one for the child, a parent should be ready to act appropriately when the milestone happens. Here’s a primer on your ideal course of action.

For one thing, the average child loses their first baby teeth around the age of six. The exact timing is going to vary, so if it takes a little longer or comes a little earlier, there’s not much to worry about. However, if your child loses a tooth prematurely due to tooth decay, this could pose a much bigger issue. Generally, after starting to lose their first teeth, the average child is going to start losing baby teeth bit by bit until the last baby tooth comes out, which is generally a molar at around the age of 12 or 13. In some cases, a tooth will be hanging loose for a little while before it starts to fall out. The exact amount of time will depend on how long it takes for the root to dissolve, but don’t force the issue.

Gerald Ferretti, D.D.S., a professor of pediatric dentistry at the University of Kentucky, in Lexington, says that it is okay for the child to wiggle out the teeth on their own, but you shouldn’t put in any other added force other than that. “If it’s extremely loose, you can take a tissue and try to rotate the tooth,” he adds. “If there’s no root left, you should be able to pull it out easily. But don’t force it, and never tie it to a string and yank — if the root is only half dissolved, it could break and become infected.”

Most of the time, what causes a child to lose a tooth initially is just the natural course of things. However, in some cases, that transition may not be so simple. According to Dr. Eric McCutcheon, DDS, a dentist in St Clair Shores, “This could be from an injury, or it could be something unexpected. For instance, you might bite down on a hard piece of food and break part of your tooth. This may not require you to see a dentist right away, unless the pain is intense and consistent.Dental infections can also flare up, which will create a sudden sharp pain in your mouth.” In general, it’s best to play things safe when it comes to unexpected tooth loss for your child.

Eventually, the adult tooth will grow to take its place, but your dentist will determine whether there are any other issues you should keep an eye out for. For example, if a baby tooth comes out too early, it may cause a problem when the permanent tooth is ready to come in.

In any event, after the tooth comes out, there are a few added things that parents can do to make sure their child is safe. Have your child gargle with some warm water after the tooth falls out, especially if there is some added bleeding still going on. After this, your child doesn’t have to change too much about their oral health routine. They can still brush with the same toothpaste in the same way, but instruct them to be a little careful around the area where the tooth fell out in order to avoid any added irritation.

Perhaps the most important thing parents should do after their child loses their first tooth is use the moment to teach them about the importance of keeping good oral health habits going. You don’t need to be dramatic about this, but establish how to take care of permanent teeth via good habits like flossing regularly, brushing your gums, as well as making sure to avoid eating too much sugar and junk food.

Losing a tooth as a child is one of those milestones that parents cherish, but after the emotions go away, it’s important to try to use this as a teachable moment as well. Remember, once adult teeth begin to grow in, there’s going to need to be an added layer of oral care needed. Make sure that you are both teaching good habits and using themselves as an example to ensure that this is only a little bump in the road on the path to good oral health.

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