Children typically start to lose their first baby tooth when they're around 6 ~ 7 years old. Baby teeth continue to fall out throughout childhood, and the last ones fall out at around 12 years old. Loose baby teeth usually fall out on their own, but some children may be eager to speed up the process. Here are some safety tips and warnings for pulling a tooth at home.
Pulling a Loose Baby Tooth
By the time a baby tooth is loose, it's held in place by only a small amount of tissue. Children may play with them and wiggle them out on their own with their fingers or tongues.
If your child wants help removing a loose tooth, the AAP offers the following tip: Grasp the tooth with a clean tissue or gauze and give it a quick twist. A tooth that is sufficiently loose will fall out with just a gentle squeeze.
If your child doesn't want help, don't try to pull out their tooth. Most baby teeth will eventually fall out on their own. If you're concerned about a tooth that doesn't seem to be falling out as it should, take your child to a dentist instead of trying to pull it out at home.
After Pulling a Tooth at Home
After pulling your child's loose baby tooth, reassure them that losing their baby teeth is a completely normal part of growing up. The loss of a baby tooth provides an opportunity to reinforce good dental habits. Just like adults' teeth, children's teeth need to be brushed twice a day and flossed once a day. Since children may not have the dexterity to properly brush their teeth, you may need to offer some assistance. Gently brush the area where a baby tooth was lost because it may be sensitive.
What about adult teeth?
You should never pull adult teeth at home. Unlike baby teeth, adult teeth aren't supposed to get loose and fall out. A loose adult tooth may be a sign of an oral condition that requires treatment. If one of your child's adult teeth is loose, see a dentist for evaluation.
Adult teeth can become loose due to a more serious form of gum disease. Some symptoms of gum disease include:
Red, tender, swollen gums
Gums that bleed easily and feel tender
Gaps between teeth
Injuries are another potential cause of loose adult teeth. Children may damage their teeth in falls or other accidents. They could also hurt their teeth during play or sports. In these cases, it's important to see a dentist as soon as possible for proper treatment.
Baby teeth will loosen and fall out on their own, but for children who are eager for a visit from the tooth fairy, pulling a tooth at home may be appropriate in certain circumstances. As for adult teeth, it's never a good idea to pull these at home, and you should see your dentist immediately if you do experience a loose tooth.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.
Brian Y. Kuo DDS FAGD