For adults, tooth loss is never something to look forward to. Whether it is from injury or poor oral hygiene, our teeth are important, so we tend to want to keep them. However, for a child, losing a tooth is exciting and means a visit from the tooth fairy. Children are proud to show off a wiggly tooth and will flash a toothless smile with enthusiasm and pride. This is a major milestone in your toddler’s life. It is the mouth’s natural process to prepare for permanent “adult” teeth.
This is also a major milestone for parents. When your child starts to lose their baby teeth, it is one of the biggest steps to them no longer… well… being your “baby.” They have now hit the “big kid” stage of life. The circumstances involving the loss of a tooth are unique for each child, knowing the right steps to take as a parent will help you guide your child seamlessly through this exciting, but often a little scary, time.
The Process of Toddler Tooth Loss
Each person starts life with 20 baby teeth, which usually show themselves fully by the age of three. They will most likely fall out in the same order they came in, first to the party, first to leave. Of course, this does not include tooth loss from injury. Wobbly toddler + coffee table edge (can often) = early loss of a baby tooth. Barring any unforeseen forces, your toddler should start losing their baby teeth around the age of five.
Permanent teeth will start to push the baby teeth below to take its place. Keep in mind, the earlier your child’s teeth come in the earlier they will start to fall out. Your child’s first tooth will most likely be either the lower or upper incisors (front teeth) and will be the first teeth to jump ship. The rest will follow.
How to Prepare Your Child for Tooth Loss
Always be positive. This goes back to the mention of tooth loss being not exactly sought after in adults. Educating them on why and how before they get their first loose tooth will help keep them from becoming afraid when it happens. There are many children’s story books that can help your child see tooth loss as an adventure. Or, you can create your own story where the hero, princess, prince, lovable-swamp monster… you get the idea, let them know that losing a tooth is “fun’ and part of becoming a “big kid” (or a big-loveable-swamp monster).
Encourage the Wiggles
Usually, parents are telling their child to “stop wiggling,” but the opposite goes for baby teeth. If you encourage them to gently wiggle a loose tooth it allows the root underneath to disintegrate completely. However, make sure they do not try to pull the tooth out before it is ready to on its own, this will help avoid infection.
There Might be Pain
A loose tooth may cause some discomfort, and the surrounding gums can often become swollen and tender. This should resolve itself when the tooth breaks free from the tissue. If your child is in serious pain, you can apply a cold compress to the area or give them age appropriate painkillers, such as children’s ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
When teaching your child what to expect during this important time of life, you can remind them how important it is to maintain good oral hygiene, especially when they start to lose their baby teeth. Successfully losing a tooth can be rewarded to encourage dental habits, such as a visit from the tooth fairy.
If you have any questions on how to guide your child through tooth loss, how to teach a child good dental habits, or have concerns about delayed tooth loss (no loss by the age of 8 years old), contact our office today and let our friendly and knowledgeable staff put your mind at ease during this milestone in life.