The first time your child loses a primary (or “baby”) tooth can be an exciting milestone. But what if you think your child is too young to lose a baby tooth? What if your child’s tooth was unexpectedly knocked out? In some cases, the loss of a primary tooth before the replacement permanent tooth is ready to come in could require special care from your child’s pediatric dentist. Here is what parents should know about the premature loss of primary teeth.
When Is It Too Soon to Lose a Baby Tooth?
Children usually begin to lose their first teeth somewhere around six years of age and continue losing teeth until age 11 to 13. The lower central incisors (the bottom front teeth) are typically the first to go, and the second premolars are usually the last. (For a diagram showing the typical ages at which children lose each baby tooth, see our article on when kids get their permanent teeth.)
That said, every child is unique and differences in the timing and order of primary tooth loss are not necessarily cause for concern. However, if your child loses a tooth significantly earlier than age six, or has a baby tooth knocked out, it’s a good idea to consult a pediatric dentist to be sure there are no underlying problems or hidden damage.
What Causes Premature Primary Tooth Loss?
Various conditions can cause premature loss of baby teeth, including
- Dental trauma from an accident or injury;
- Periodontitis, a serious gum infection that can weaken the gum tissue and surrounding bone so much that they can no longer support the teeth; and
- Certain medical conditions, like hypophosphatasia (a genetic disorder that weakens bone development) or some forms of childhood cancer.
In addition, severe tooth decay can lead to serious infections that necessitate the removal of a primary tooth before it is ready to fall out naturally. Similarly, when dental trauma causes a primary tooth to become loose, the tooth could become infected and need to be removed entirely.
How Can I Prevent Premature Primary Tooth Loss?
Although it is not always possible to prevent the loss of a child’s tooth, there are several steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of premature primary tooth loss.
First, help your child practice good oral hygiene. Help your child brush his/her teeth twice a day, every day, and make sure your child flosses regularly. Limit your child’s intake of sugary drinks (like juice, soda, and sports drinks) and serve foods that are nutritionally balanced.
Second, make sure your child wears an athletic mouth guard to protect his/her teeth and gums when playing sports. A custom-made mouth guard, fitted by your child’s dentist, offers the best protection for your child.
Third, take your child to see a pediatric dentist regularly. Routine dental visits play a critical role in detecting and preventing early tooth loss. Your child’s dentist can use a combination of visual exams and diagnostic radiographic imaging to detect risk for early tooth loss. If your child’s dentist determines that your child is at high risk for early tooth loss, the dentist can monitor the teeth and work with you and your child to minimize that risk.
What Should I Do If a Baby Tooth Is Lost Too Soon?
If you are concerned that a baby tooth has fallen out prematurely, give your child’s pediatric dentist a call. Even though baby teeth will eventually be replaced by permanent teeth, they are still important to your child’s dental health. They hold the place for permanent teeth and aid in the development of a child’s bite.
If a baby tooth is lost too early, pediatric dentists are the most qualified professionals to help. They can help diagnose the underlying cause of the early tooth loss and help prevent the premature loss of additional teeth. If there is a related medical issue, the pediatric dentist can make referrals for other medical care as needed.
Additionally, a pediatric dentist can evaluate the need for a space maintainer. When a baby tooth is lost too early, the adjacent teeth often start shifting into the open space. This can result in your child’s teeth becoming crowded and crooked. Space maintainers hold the adjacent teeth in a steady position so that the permanent replacement tooth can grow in appropriately.
Keep in mind that a lost baby tooth should not be reinserted into your child’s gums, as reinserting the tooth could damage your child’s developing permanent teeth.
Pediatric Dentist in Hurst, TX
If you have any concerns that your child may have lost a baby tooth too early, visit our office. Dr. Lin can evaluate your child’s dental health and help him or her maintain that beautiful smile! Call our office today at (817) 510-6400 to schedule an appointment.
This article is intended to provide general information about oral health topics. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition or as a substitute for the advice of a healthcare professional who is fully aware of and familiar with the specifics of your case. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with regard to any questions you may have relating to a medical condition or treatment.