Why the Timing of Loss of Baby Teeth Matters to Your Smile

A little girl with her fists up in the air.

What’s all the fuss about baby teeth, you make ask. They are not permanent so does it really matter when your child loses them? Actually it does and that is why proper oral hygiene is so important for your child even as a baby.What’s all the fuss about baby teeth, you make ask. They are not permanent so does it really matter when your child loses them? Actually it does and that is why proper oral hygiene is so important for your child even as a baby.

Baby teeth, referred to as the primary teeth, can appear as early as at the age of three to four months of age and are usually all in place by the age of three. Even those these will eventually start to fall out, typically around six years of age, baby teeth play an important role in the health of your smile. Not only do they help your child chew and talk properly, but they hold the space until the permanent teeth grow in.

When a baby tooth is lost too early, there could be alignment issues when the permanent teeth finally do come in. Problems can also erupt when the baby teeth come out on the late side as well. Being aware of what to expect with your child’s teeth development and helping them practice good oral hygiene can help prevent later complications from popping up.

Timeline for Losing Baby Teeth

Typically children begin to lose their baby teeth around the age of 6 years old. While there is some wiggle room a little before or after, if your child is losing teeth before the age of 4 ½ then consult your dentist to make sure there is not any underlying oral health issue. If your child hasn’t lost a tooth by 7 or 8 years old then also talk to the dentist about any possible problems. Even losing baby teeth on the later side can affect the alignment of your child’s teeth as he or she gets older.

Although each child’s experience will be slightly different, there is a general timeline for the loss of baby teeth. Here is a guideline of what you can expect:

  • Between 6 and 7 your child will usually lose his or her first tooth. The first tooth is usually a central incisor in the center of the top or bottom row.
  • After the central incisors, the next to go are typically the lateral incisors which are next to the front teeth. Expect this typically around 7 or 8 years old.
  • Then between 9 and 11 years of age, your child will start to lose the first molars, the larger teeth at the back of the mouth.
  • And between the ages of 10 and 12, your child will lose that last of the baby teeth, the second molars.
  • Your child’s wisdom teeth usually come in between the ages of 17 and 21.

While you have no control of any of the genetics that might be controlling teeth development, there are still things you can do. Here are some ways you can prevent your child from having dental issues:

Cleaning Your Baby’s Teeth

Even before your child’s first primary tooth has erupted you should be cleaning your baby’s gums from day one. All that is required is gently using a clean, damp washcloth or a toothbrush with soft bristles to gently clean the gums after every feeding.

And then once that first tooth comes in, brush it regularly with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Use a non-fluoride toothpaste while they are little. Brush your baby’s teeth twice a day like you do your own.When your child is old enough to understand not to swallow the toothpaste you can start allowing them to use fluoride toothpaste.

For children, 3 to 6 years old, make sure you are supervising the brushing of their teeth and that you use only a pea-sized amount of the fluoride toothpaste. Remind them not to swallow the toothpaste. Also, make sure they are brushing thoroughly twice a day and that you help them floss as soon as they have two teeth next to each other.

You know your child best so make sure you continue to supervise their daily brushing and flossing until you are confident that they can handle it on their own.

Also, don’t let your child fall asleep after nursing or drinking a bottle of milk or juice because this can lead to early tooth decay.

Start Dental Visits Early

Many people don’t start taking their child to the dentist until they are around three, but dentists recommend visits starting as early as 6 months and no later than one years old.

By sticking to regular dental checkups for your child early, you will also have a better sense of when is the right time for your child to start losing his or her baby teeth. The dentist will be able to spot any problems early on.

Limit Thumbsucking in Your Child

While thumbsucking is a natural way for a baby to soothe him or herself, the problem occurs when this habit continues into the pre-school years because thumbsucking can cause crooked teeth and bite or jaw problems. Here are some tips to help stop your child’s thumbsucking:

  • Address the underlying issue that is causing any possible anxiety that is leading to the thumbsucking.
  • Put a sock over their hand to help remind your child not to do it.
  • Ask your dentist for help.

It is crucial that you don’t write-off your child’s baby teeth as unimportant. Just because he or she will eventually lose them doesn’t mean they don’t have an important role to play in your child’s oral health. The timing of loss of baby teeth matters to your smile. Avoid future dental complications by practicing good oral hygiene from the start.

If you have any worries or concerns about your child’s baby teeth, don’t hesitate contacting the dentist. Through regular dental examinations, the dentist can track the development of your child’s teeth and will let you know if any preventive measures need to be taken.

Later dental problems can cause your child pain and embarrassment not to mention the expense of fixing issues down the line, but you can keep all this to the minimum by taking care of your child’s teeth right from the start.

Want to learn more about how the timing of loss of baby teeth matters to your smile? Contact Orthodontics Limited for more information.