It's an exciting milestone for parents when their child loses a baby tooth for the first time. You can start planning out visits from the tooth fairy, capture some adorable gap-toothed photos, and start singing "All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth."
But how do you know if your child's baby teeth are developing on schedule? Keep reading to learn about how teeth develop as your child grows and when you should expect them to start getting loose.
Each of us is born with two full sets of teeth. Baby teeth, also known as primary teeth, are smaller than the permanent ones they'll get later on. These start coming in when an infant reaches about four months of age and will continue coming in until they're around a year old.
Behind them, permanent teeth start developing in the jawbone. While the tooth buds of both permanent and primary teeth form during pregnancy, it takes a few years for the permanent ones to emerge.
As the permanent teeth grow larger, they start to push on the roots of the primary teeth that are already in place. This causes the baby teeth's roots to dissolve until they fall out, making room for the permanent ones to take their place.
Most kids begin to lose their baby teeth around six years old. Even so, others may start to lose theirs as early as four years of age, with others waiting until they're eight.
The first teeth to fall out are usually the central incisors (top and bottom front teeth.) It isn't uncommon for a child to lose all four of these in rapid succession, leaving them completely unable to bite the lettuce out of a sandwich until the permanent ones grow in. While it can be frustrating when it comes to mealtimes, this phenomenon can lead to some seriously cute school photos.
This is kind of a trick question. A full set of primary teeth contains twenty-10 on top and ten on the bottom. An adult ends up with 32, so where are those twelve extra teeth coming from?
While adults and kids have the same number of incisors and cuspids (canine teeth), kids only have eight molars in total. A set of adult teeth contains eight premolars (bicuspids) that replace the primary molars as well as twelve permanent molars. These permanent molars come in by themselves starting at age six, ending with the wisdom teeth (third molars) developing between ages seventeen and twenty-five.
Children don't typically lose their canine teeth until they're nine or older, and many are ten or eleven before their primary molars fall out.
Every child's mouth is different, and some will start losing their teeth later than others. But if your child is seven or older and still hasn't gotten a loose tooth, ask your dentist about taking an x-ray. Some children are just late bloomers, but in very rare cases there could be a problem with the development of their permanent teeth.
There's actually evidence that losing teeth later on in childhood can be beneficial. If the permanent teeth have more time to develop in the jaw, they end up with a thicker layer of enamel and are less likely to chip or get cavities.
Some children are thrilled to start losing their teeth. Maybe they've seen an older sibling get a nickel under their pillow from the tooth fairy or seen friends at school pridefully flash a gap-toothed grin at show-and-tell. Others love wiggling their loose teeth until they naturally fall out and enjoy feeling like a "big kid" when their permanent teeth start coming in.
Overall, science shows that losing baby teeth is a positive experience for children. But for some, it's terrifying.
Some kids, especially those with sensitive mouths, are scared that the tooth is going to hurt when it comes out. It's best to encourage these kids to keep gently wiggling the tooth as much as they can, and many times they will fall out on their own. If the tooth is ready to fall out but they can't bring themselves to finish the job, you can use a tissue to gently grasp and rotate the tooth out.
Others are more afraid of bleeding than anything else. One parent recounted the story of how her daughter panicked at the slightest taste of blood from a loose tooth. She found that the way to conquer the fear was to have her daughter record an encouraging video talking herself through the process.
But whatever you do, don't pull your child's tooth before the roots are dissolved. If it doesn't fall out with gentle tugging or rotating, it isn't quite ready. Using the old string tied to a doorknob technique can break off the remaining root and lead to an infection.
The fact that your children's baby teeth will fall out when they're young doesn't negate the need for dental care. Make sure that they brush and floss twice daily, limit the amount of sugar they eat and sign them up for regular dental cleanings.
If you're looking for a great dentist for your child in the Rock Hill, SC area, give A Healthy Smile Family & Cosmetic Dentistry a call. All ages deserve a healthy smile, so contact us today or schedule an appointment online to get started.