Losing their baby teeth is a big part of the transition from kids to teenagers. When this process begins, your child might feel apprehensive or concerned by it, but it’s a very natural process that rarely leads to complications.
Understanding the process, the general order in which kids lose their baby teeth, and knowing what to do when baby teeth fall out, helps both you and your child and, in the unlikely event that your child has a more disrupted experience, lets you know when it’s time to contact your trusted kid’s dentist in Green Bay, WI.
How Many Baby Teeth Do You Lose?
Children have twenty baby teeth in total, which typically fall out in the sequence in which they erupted. Occasionally, a child may “retain” one or more baby teeth. Give your family dentist a call if this is the case for your child. It isn’t always a problem, but we’ll need to conduct exams and perform X-rays to know whether the tooth or teeth need to be extracted.
How Many Teeth Do Adults Have?
Adults have 32 teeth. The extra 12 are accounted for by an extra set of molars (including the wisdom teeth, which often don’t erupt until the early 20s) and two sets of premolars, which are in between canines and molars both in position and shape.
When Do Baby Teeth Fall Out?
Kids tend to start losing their deciduous (or “baby”) teeth at around the age of six, though it’s not uncommon for this to start up to a year later. As adult teeth develop in the gums beneath baby teeth, the roots of the primary teeth dissolve, causing them to become wobbly and, eventually, fall out of their own accord (or under gentle pressure from the child’s tongue).
Usually, the first teeth to fall out are the central incisors (the flat-topped teeth at the front and middle of the mouth). These tend to be followed by the lateral incisors (those between the central incisors and the canines).
Over the next few years, kids will lose their canines (the pointed, fang-like teeth between the incisors and the molars) and their first molars (the furthest forward of their large, grinding teeth), until around the age of 10-12. The second molars (those right at the back of the mouth) are typically the last to fall out.
It’s important to remember that the exact timing and sequence in which baby teeth fall out varies from child to child, so there’s no need to worry if your child doesn’t follow this exact pattern. If your child misses a milestone by more than a year, it might then be worth speaking to their dentist.
By the age of 13, adult teeth will usually have erupted through in place of baby teeth, though again the exact timing can vary.
What to Do When Baby Teeth Fall Out
It’s a good idea to begin brushing teeth and gums as soon as your child’s first baby tooth erupts, or even before. Hopefully, by the time their baby teeth start falling out, they will already have some good oral hygiene habits ingrained.
When your child loses a tooth, have them rinse their mouth out using a saltwater solution. This will clean their gums and prevent infection. Clean the area gently with soft, sterile gauze, especially if there is any bleeding.
Try to encourage your child not to spit after losing a tooth, as this can increase the chances of bleeding. Use a wet cloth to clean up any blood. Once the area is clean and dry, you can use an over-the-counter topical anesthetic to relieve any pain. Children’s ibuprofen can be used to relieve any swelling. If this doesn’t relieve the swelling, contact your dentist.
If for any reason (such as decay or an accident) a child loses their baby teeth early, they can be replaced by permanent teeth prematurely. This can lead to adult teeth being crowded and crooked, so it is a good idea to speak to an orthodontist if you think this might have happened to your child.
Of course, making the process as positive as possible will always help your child through it. Remind them that the tooth fairy will visit and leave them a reward every time they lose a tooth! And if you are in any doubt, contact your trusted kid’s dentist in Green Bay, WI.