The act of losing a tooth is nostalgic to a child. While it’s not too painful to lose a tooth, a sense of embarrassment comes with it as a wide gap is left.
However, this is a significant milestone that your child will have to cross in the process of growing up. Taking care of the baby milk teeth and pulling them out when they start falling out is beneficial for your child as you pave the way for new permanent teeth.
The root of the primary tooth act as a guiding light for the permanent tooth to come right after it. Therefore, you should help your child to take care of the milk teeth appropriately.
Do you know how you can care for your child’s milk teeth?
Taking Care of Milk Teeth
A child’s deciduous teeth, also commonly known as baby teeth or milk teeth, sprout out and form the baby’s dental composition in the first years of life.
They begin to appear from the age of 6 months, and by the end of the 3rd year of life, your child has about 20 teeth. After these milk teeth fall out, then they’ll develop a new set of permanent teeth with 32 teeth in total.
Baby’s milk teeth are temporary, but they should be taken care of so that they can serve their purpose fully before they fall off.
Always make sure that:
- Your child has brushed their teeth at least twice per day. For the infants with one or two teeth, wipe the teeth with a cloth and water. Introduce fluoride toothpaste at three years.
- You supervise your child as they brush their teeth and offer assistance where needed. Your child will learn to brush correctly from you.
- Visit the dentist with your child regularly. As early as it is, your child must make visits to the dentist to ensure that their teeth are growing correctly.
- Eat a well-balanced diet and avoid sugary snacks in between the meals. Too much sugar is not suitable for the teeth as it can cause cavities.
It’s essential to take care of milk teeth because:
- They are placeholders for their permanent counterparts.
- They help share the face giving it a normal appearance.
- They help the child develop clear speech.
- They help to give a healthy start to permanent teeth developing beneath them.
Difference between Baby Teeth and Permanent Teeth
Let’s look at what makes each one of them unique.
- The number of baby teeth is 20, while that of permanent teeth is 32.
- The baby teeth fall out after a few years, while permanent teeth last a lifetime.
- The baby teeth appear to be smoother on the edges, while permanent teeth appear to be rough-edged.
- Baby teeth are usually more white as compared to the permanent teeth, which appear to be yellow.
Losing Primary Teeth: The Order
Primary teeth are not the end game; instead, they create space in the jaw for the future permanent teeth.
When permanent teeth are ready to come up, the baby tooth’s root starts to dissolve.
When it’s completely dissolved, the tooth becomes loose and can be easily pulled out.
Children begin to lose their teeth at the age of 6 years. This doesn’t apply to every child because every child is different.
Some begin losing their teeth as early as four years, while others start at seven years. Whatever time your baby starts to lose their teeth, yours will be supportive and make it fun for them.
Baby teeth tend to follow this order on their way out.
Central Incisors come out first.
These are usually the first to sprout out at the age of 6 months and also the first to fall out at six years.
First, the lower incisors go, followed by the upper central incisors. These make way for the bigger incisors that adults have.
Lateral incisors follow
These are the next two right after the central incisors on either side of the bottom jaw and the top jaw.
After losing four teeth already, the fear and the embarrassment is gone, and your child can enjoy losing a tooth and watching another one grow.
Primary first molars
These easily fall out and are replaced by permanent molars. They are not painful to come out as compared to incoming molars.
They are shed at the age of nine and eleven years.
Primary second molars and canines
This is the last set of teeth to fall out at the age of 9-12 years. Their jaw grows to accommodate the new set of teeth.
By the time your child is 13 years old, they should have a complete set of permanent teeth.
How to Remove the Tooth
Before you can pull out the loose tooth, you should take time to talk to your child and explain to them that it’s okay to be toothless for a while to get a new tooth.
Introduce fun mythical stories like the Tooth fairy and how he brings new teeth. This establishes trust between you and your child concerning pulling out of the teeth.
They also develop confidence and are ready to brave the pain of having the tooth pulled out.
Teeth should be pulled out only when they are loose and not on to a root underneath it.
Pulling it out when the root is still holding increases the risk of too much bleeding and also getting an infection at the socket because the permanent tooth is yet to come up.
Loose milk teeth should be removed gently and not by pulling with a string or hitting it against a doorknob.
Dr. Maria Lopez -Howell of the American Dental Association (ADA) advises that you take a tissue, place it over the loose tooth and squeeze it. Easy peasy!
What To Do After a Tooth is Removed
After a baby tooth extraction, the healing process begins. For a healthy child, the healing process can take one or two days.
To facilitate faster healing of the extracted area, you should:
- Prepare a warm salt solution and let your child use it to rinse their mouth to get rid of germs.
- Cover the area where the tooth has been removed using a gauze. You can press it a little to help to stop the bleeding.
- Encourage your child not to spit, as this will lead to more bleeding.
- If there are pain and discomfort, apply a cold, wet cloth to ease the pain.
- In case bleeding persists or a piece of the tooth was left inside the jaw, be sure to call the doctor.
When To Call The Doctor
Some complications might arise from the tooth extraction procedure, especially if the socket is not correctly taken care of
While bleeding is normal after a tooth extraction, excessive bleeding may indicate an injury to the gum. Letting the doctor know about this will help determine the injury’s extent and prescribe the proper medication for it.
For milk teeth, swelling at the gum area where the extraction has been made is not expected. However, every child is different, and swelling might occur due to the site’s pressure.
It is essential to talk to your doctor to rule out any cause for alarm.
If your child experiences a fever after a milk tooth extraction, then it means that there has been an infection at the tooth’s socket. Early treatment with correct antibiotics should solve the problem.
When extracting a tooth, it is vital to ensure that it is completely loose. Pulling it out before it’s completely loose can cause the tooth to break and leave fragments inside the gum.
If this happens, then call the doctor immediately.
What Happens If Milk Teeth Are Not Removed?
If milk teeth are not removed, permanent teeth begin to grow behind them. They are called shark teeth.
When you notice that shark teeth are growing behind your baby’s milk teeth, you must consult a dentist. The dentist will examine the tooth and most likely remove the baby tooth.
In some cases, the growing permanent tooth pushes the milk tooth and causes it to fall out. Before consulting your dentist, confirm whether the tooth is getting loose or not. If yes, then wiggle it for a few days, then pull it out.
If you choose to ignore the permanent tooth growing behind the baby tooth, the teeth move out of position and deflect, posing future orthodontic problems.
One More Thing
The process of losing teeth is a long one because it takes years. In the first few days, losing a tooth can disrupt a child’s routine, how they feel, and even how they sleep.
If you notice your child could be having difficulties falling asleep, it would be great to grab yourself a copy of Baby Miracle Sleep by Mary-Anne Schuler.
It’s an excellent guide for mothers and babies, containing the dos and the don’ts in the journey to achieving a fulfilling sleep for both mother and baby.