Losing a Primary Tooth

Parents often ask questions about the loss of a primary tooth. When will my child lose their baby teeth?  What if they can’t work them loose? How much does the Tooth Fairy pay these days?

The first teeth to get loose are the lower incisors. This generally happens at 6-7 years of age (plus or minus a year is within normal limits). This is caused by the erupting permanent tooth, which causes the root of the primary tooth to dissolve. As the root resorbs this usually causes the tooth to become quite loose.

Your child’s attitude will largely depend on you. If you are anxious, they probably will be. If you make it fun (and hint at a small cash reward for success), most kids will think nothing of the “pinch”, and be proud of their accomplishment. Having missing teeth is a right of passage! A little focused wiggling usually does the trick. Eating can help as well, especially something sticky. Personally, I recommend chocolate and caramel.

If the patient needs a little help, some topical anesthetic will numb the gums, and make the pinch a little smaller. You can get these (like Oragel and Anbesol) at the pharmacy.

Occasionally, if the root doesn’t resorb completely and a long spicule of root remains. This can make self extraction impossible for all but the most determined patients.  It’s best in this case to recruit professional help. We can make it a quick experience that is free from discomfort. Leaving a primary tooth in place too long can result in the permanent tooth erupting “around” the primary tooth. When the tooth comes in crooked it can lead to an orthodontic problem. Timing a possible intervention is easy with routine exams and x-rays.

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