Does your four-year-old already have a wobbly tooth? Has your eight-year-old still not had a single visit from the tooth fairy? Parents naturally worry about their children’s growth, so it’s no surprise that one of the most frequent questions dentists hear is, “When do baby teeth fall out?” As with many other developmental milestones, generally accepted norms exist. However, there is also quite a bit of natural variation. When it comes to baby teeth, the order in which they fall out is actually more important than when it happens. Taking your child to a dentist as early as possible is the best way to make sure your child’s teeth are healthy. Plus, regular visits to the dentist can instill great lifelong dental hygiene habits.
When Do Baby Teeth Fall Out?
Primary teeth, also known as baby teeth, start to emerge when a child is around six months old. The first to appear are usually the lower central incisors, and the last to erupt are the upper second primary molars. By age three, most children have 20 teeth that remain in place for another three years. Typically, baby teeth start falling out between ages six and eight. The four lower central incisors are usually the first to go and are followed by their upper counterparts. Permanent teeth should start coming in shortly thereafter. All eight permanent incisors should be present by age eight.
Parents are often surprised when their children suddenly stop losing teeth between the ages of 8 and 10, adding further confusion to the question, “When do baby teeth fall out?” However, this is to be expected. The lower canines and upper first molars are usually the next teeth to go, at around age 10. The lower first molars should follow shortly after that. By age 12, the upper canines, the upper second molars, and the lower second molars start to go. All of the primary teeth are generally gone by the time the child becomes a teenager.
Keep in mind that these figures are only averages. It’s perfectly normal for a child to lose their first baby tooth as early as age four or as late as age seven. Some 10-year-old kids have no baby teeth left while some 14-year-old teenagers may still have a few. Children whose teeth emerge earlier tend to lose their teeth earlier and vice versa. Losing teeth before age four could be indicative of a problem, so you should see a dentist right away if your toddler has a wobbly tooth.
If your child’s teeth do not fall out in the order described above, that could also signal a problem. If a permanent tooth doesn’t grow in place of a lost baby tooth within three months, the permanent tooth could be crooked and therefore unable to push through the gums because adjacent baby teeth are blocking it. It’s advisable to schedule an appointment with an orthodontist sometime after your child’s seventh birthday regardless of their dental development. An orthodontist can tell you whether you child’s teeth are developing normally, or if they recommend interceptive procedures to manually remove some primary teeth.
What to Do When Your Child Has a Loose Tooth
You should encourage your child to very gently wiggle their loose tooth, but remind them not to pull on it because that increases the risk for infection. Let the tooth fall out on its own. Intervention from a dentist is rarely needed. If your child complains about their mouth hurting, it is likely because their permanent molars are emerging. A small dose of ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help, but the pain shouldn’t continue for very long.
New permanent teeth are larger than the baby teeth they replace. They also may appear less white and have more pronounced ridges. Sometimes a permanent tooth may start to grow in before the old baby tooth falls out, so your child can appear to have two rows of teeth growing out of the same gum. This is a condition called shark’s teeth, usually this is nothing to be worried about. Normally the old teeth will eventually fall out, but you can check with your dentist if the condition lasts longer than a month.
Caring for Permanent Teeth
Once permanent teeth appear, they are there to stay – so take good care of them! Supervise your child as they brush their teeth until you are sure they know how to do it properly. Use just a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste, and change toothbrushes every three months or sooner if the bristles appear frayed.
A dentist can also help you teach your child how to brush their teeth. But even if your son or daughter practices perfect dental hygiene, you should still schedule a cleaning every six months to prevent cavities. Now if your child ever asks you, “When do baby teeth fall out?”, you can use it as an opportunity to talk about the importance of maintaining their pearly whites.
If you’re looking for an experienced, reliable, and friendly dentist in or near Springfield, Missouri, contact Wilkinson Dental. Dr. Wilkinson and his team will give you the personalized treatment you deserve using state-of-the-art technology. Schedule your first appointment today by calling 417-708-0556 or requesting an appointment online. We look forward to hearing from you!