When your child gets their first wobbly tooth it can be an exciting milestone, but it can also be a confusing time for parents who may be unsure of what is ‘normal’ when it comes to losing baby teeth.
4 questions about children losing baby teeth
When will my child lose their first tooth?
In most cases, the lower front two milk teeth are the first to become loose and fall out, and this generally occurs around 5.5 years of age. However, some children may begin to lose teeth earlier, and some may not lose any until they are older. Each child is different, so while you may be concerned if your child’s best friend has lost three or four teeth and yours is yet to lose any, you can rest assured that in most cases this is perfectly normal.
Wobbly teeth can remain in the mouth for several months and in some cases may become annoying or uncomfortable for your child. Sometimes the wobbly tooth might prevent them from being able to eat their usual foods or it may even irritate their tongue, lips or gums (depending on its location).
But please be patient — usually the wobbly tooth will come out of its own accord without any adult assistance (although often helped along by persistent little fingers keen for a visit from the tooth fairy!).
Should I change my child’s usual tooth brushing routine?
When your child has a wobbly tooth, make sure you continue their usual tooth brushing routine, especially over the area where the tooth is loose as food may become stuck underneath. If the gum is particularly sore or swollen, consider using a salty water swab over the area if they’ll let you.
And make sure you are helping them to brush — children need adult supervision and assistance brushing their teeth until they reach eight years of age, as they may not have developed the necessary manual dexterity to properly clean their teeth before then.
Sometimes a child’s new lower incisors will begin to erupt through the gum before the lower baby teeth have fallen out, giving them an appearance of a double row of teeth. While it may look and feel strange for you or your child, it’s important to resist the urge to have the baby teeth extracted and simply allow nature to work its magic. In most cases the baby teeth will come out without any intervention (beyond those previously mentioned wiggling fingers!).
My child is in pain! What can I do?
Even if your child is in pain, avoid the temptation to use teething gels, as these have failed to demonstrate any specific benefit. In fact, some gels sold over the counter contain aspirin, which is not recommended for children under 12 years of age due to its association with Reye’s Syndrome.
If your child is experiencing pain or discomfort due to a wobbly tooth, or as a new tooth comes through, use paracetamol or ibuprofen at the recommended doses, or offer them a cold carrot or celery stick to munch on. This can be very soothing, particularly as the big back molars begin to come through.
When should I take my child to see a dentist?
Baby teeth will generally fall out in the order that they came through, so if your child loses a canine before losing their front teeth then this is unusual and would warrant a visit to the dentist.
Similarly, if a new tooth comes through and is discoloured, or your child loses a tooth but there is still no sign of the new tooth several months later, your dentist should be your first port of call.
Children should have their first dental check–up by 12 months of age.
Postponing the first trip to the dentist can mean that early signs of problems are missed, and it can also make visiting the dentist a more traumatic experience down the track.
I always encourage parents to talk to their children about oral health and explain why it is so important to maintain a good oral hygiene routine. The teeth that come through after the baby teeth fall out are the only ones they’ll get, so it’s very important that they look after them!