As parents, we are certainly prepared for the shedding of our children’s baby teeth. After all, we have all been through it ourselves. Starting around age 6 with the front teeth, or incisors, and continuing through about age 12 when the molars are finally replaced, we know our kids are going to be losing their first set of teeth. There is still, though, a sense of trepidation: To pull or not to pull; that is the question.
Following Nature’s Way
Let’s examine why baby teeth come and go to better understand the process. As our children grow, the jaw and mouth need teeth to help with proper development. Primarily, the presence of baby teeth helps provide a pathway for the permanent or adult teeth that follow. In addition, the baby teeth play a vital role as a child is learning to speak and make facial expressions. The teeth are also required to chew food for proper digestion.
Despite knowing these teeth will be sacrificed, it is best to establish good oral hygiene practices including seeing the dentist bi-annually for checkups starting at six months to a year with the first tooth eruptions. In this way, the progress may be monitored while having an opportunity to catch any issues that may need correction before they can become problems later.
As part of the natural course of events, the first teeth must come out to make way for the adult teeth to come in. Generally, this occurs without issue, except for the apprehension that surrounds the potential for pain and bleeding sometimes associated with pulling the teeth out. Let’s look at why this may happen.
All in Their Own Time
Baby teeth are programmed, in a way, to fall out. Generally, there is no need to interfere with the process of root resorption; this is the natural disappearance or dissolution of the tissue that holds the teeth in place. At first, incisors become “wobbly,” and children often find it a preoccupation.
This process of resorption is initiated and regulated by the underlying tooth that is making its way forth. Pulling a loose tooth too soon may result in pain and bleeding as the tissue is not quite to the stage of letting go. Only the child will have a true sense of how loose a tooth is.
With bleeding there may also be a chance of infection. There is little risk of spacing problems or crowding of teeth with these first baby teeth. Impaction tends to be more common at a later age when the molars are erupting. At any point of concern, consulting with the dentist is the best way to catch and correct any issues.
The Tooth Fairy, Rocket Ships and other Myths
There are a variety of familiar methods used to get these teeth to pop out from tying a connecting string from the tooth to a doorknob to javelins or rockets. In these cases, the anticipation might be worse than allowing nature to take its course. Using the tongue to move a loose tooth back and forth may be enough to encourage the tooth to come free while the promise of a reward from the tooth fairy typically provides the incentive, although not a guarantee, to be more careful not to swallow the tooth.
The more “wobbly” a tooth becomes, the closer it is to falling out on its own. A tissue or piece of gauze placed over a loose tooth is enough to create sufficient grip to simply twist the tooth from its mooring roots and that is that.