Baby teeth, also known as primary teeth, are the first set of teeth that grow and are temporary throughout childhood. Most children start losing teeth by the age of 5 or 6, but age varies and some may begin to lose teeth at ages 4 or 7. The first teeth to become loose are the mandibular central incisors, or the bottom front teeth.
Why do we need baby teeth?
Baby teeth are present as the first set of teeth because when a baby is born, the jaw is too small to accommodate the full size of permanent teeth. As the child grows, the jaw and muscles become mature and large enough to support permanent teeth.
What causes primary teeth to become loose?
As permanent teeth form in the jaw, they will form closely under the root of the primary teeth. The pressure from the permanent tooth causes the baby tooth’s root to resorb or start to dissolve. The more the root resorbs, the more loose the tooth becomes until no root is left and the tooth either falls out on its own or is easily pulled.
Did you know …?
A permanent tooth putting pressure on a primary tooth is not the only thing that can cause a root to resorb. Roots of the teeth can resorb from cysts, tumors and even moving teeth around too quickly with orthodontic treatment or braces.
Pointers for pulling a baby tooth
- If your child is very sensitive to pain, it is recommended to use some type of over-the-counter topical anesthesia. In other words, find a numbing gel or spray to put around the gums of the loose tooth. Ambesol or a type of ointment containing benzocaine are good choices. Dab the ointment on the gums and wait about 10 minutes before starting to pull.
- Use a gauze pad to help grip the tooth so it does not slip out of your fingers.
- Pull the tooth directly away from the gums because wiggling the tooth causes excess pinching of the gums and is more uncomfortable.
Don’t use any type of pliers because they may be sharp, dirty and unsafe.
- Be careful not to pull the tooth in any way that may cause it to fly down your child’s throat.
Adult teeth are just under the gums when a baby tooth falls out and should only take a few weeks to poke through and take the place of the missing primary tooth.
Be aware that there are reasons a baby tooth can become loose prematurely. It could be caused by a bad bite, crowding of the teeth or an underlying problem. If you have a concern about your child’s teeth, contact our office.