The Great White Shark has endless rows of teeth that fall out, grow in, and repeat all throughout its life. It never has to brush its teeth or worry about flossing. If it loses a tooth in the process of taking down a seal it only has to wait a little while for a new one to snap into place as replacement.
Humans? We aren’t so lucky. People only get two sets of teeth, and one of those will be entirely gone by our early teens. For kids, losing this first set of “baby teeth” is tremendously exciting: for parents it can be a nervous wait. Some parents may start to get worried if they think the process is taking a bit too long, or is happening too quickly for comfort. So what is the right time for your kids to start dropping their teeth all over the place?
We may not have endless teeth but at least we have a nicer smile
That’s not such an easy question to answer precisely, however a good rule of thumb to go by is that as long as they’re over four years old and under eight, then they’re of the right age to start losing their teeth. The process will most likely be completely over by around thirteen or so.
Some kids, girls especially, will be early bloomers and lose their first baby teeth around four years old. This is nothing to worry about, even if to you it may feel like just yesterday that their baby teeth were coming in. The first teeth to go will most likely be the front four incisors. The bottom two typically go first followed by their counterparts up top. The next to go are the lateral incisors, followed by the molars and finally the canines.
The actual process of the tooth loss should be relatively painless and issue free. There’s no need to try and force a tooth to fall out before its time, even if it’s very loose. The old piece of string tied to a doorknob trick can be well and truly left alone. The most active participant in the process will probably the kid themselves, as they wiggle the loose tooth around with their tongue or fingers. When the tooth falls out it will soon be replaced by a strong, healthy example of an adult tooth, which is where the real work begins. These teeth are the last any of us will get in our lifetime, so it’s critical to ensure that proper dental care begins immediately.
There are a couple of situations that may be cause for a little concern should they arise. Sometimes, trauma to a baby tooth may cause it to fall out early. If this happens, there’s a possibility that the teeth surrounding it will try to move into the empty space, forcing the adult teeth to grow in crooked. If you notice your child has lost a tooth before time, a dentist might decide it's good idea to place a temporary spacer in the gap to keep it open for it’s adult tooth.
Another possibility, if your child hasn’t lost any baby teeth by age eight, is that extra bone in the jaw may be preventing them from loosening. If your child is getting on a bit in age and hasn’t lost their baby teeth yet it’s no reason to throw a fit in panic: simply take them along to the dentist for a checkup. The dentist might decide to take an X-Ray to determine any possible issues, and the problem (if there is one) can be addressed from there.
In general, the transition from baby to adult teeth is a painless one for children as well as parents. In fact, most kids will be nothing but excited about the wiggling teeth and the possibility of the tooth fairy coming around. In very rare cases something may go awry, which is why organising regular checkups with your dentist from the time your child’s baby teeth first erupt is so important. Nipping any problems in the bud is the key to ensuring great oral health into adulthood.