Baby teeth, also known as primary, milk, or deciduous, are the first twenty teeth your child has. By the time your child reaches his/her third birthday, all of them should be present. But in just a few years, around age 5-6, he’ll start losing these temporary teeth. Permanent teeth (also known as secondary teeth) push up from underneath and demolish the roots of the primary teeth.
It is impossible to tell for sure when a child will start losing teeth. Overall, children who were early teethers are likely to lose their teeth before the rest of his peers. If parents lost their teeth early, their children have tendency to follow suit. The first teeth your child looses are the first he got in his mouth – lower center teeth. After that – the top two front teeth follow. Then the next two on either side of the bottom jaw, and lastly, the two on the top. Usually only these eight teeth fall out by age seven or eight. The rest of your child’s teeth don’t fall out until ages 10 to 12.
While baby teeth are not permanent and only stay for a few years, they have an essential role in the proper development of the jaw, muscles, and adult teeth. When loss of baby teeth happens naturally, permanent teeth grow in and take place. Nevertheless, if a baby tooth is lost too soon, it can sometimes prevent proper development in the mouth.
Baby teeth can fall out earlier for a number of reasons:
- Accidents resulting in a tooth loss (most common cause). Playing sports and rough-play sometimes result in a knocked out tooth. It is very important to follow the number of steps that can help your child to save the tooth:
- Comfort the child, find the tooth, rinse it in milk and try to reinsert the tooth
- If you can not reinsert tooth in a socket, put it in a clean container of milk, salt water or saliva
- Take your child to the dentist as soon as possible bringing the tooth with you
- Extraction of baby teeth due to severe tooth decay.
- Tooth has never grown in the first place. When any of the above happens, this can cause orthodontic problems. According to American Dental Association, losing a tooth before it’s ready can lead to other teeth crowding into the vacant spot. The teeth may not have enough room for the secondary tooth to develop, which can cause crooked teeth and eating problems.
Dentists can prevent this from happening by inserting a space maintainer in your child’s mouth until it’s the right time for the permanent tooth to emerge. There are several different types of space maintainers that can be used for treatment:
- Older kids might use a removable space maintainer. This appliance looks like a retainer and is usually plastic.
- Younger kids usually use a fixed space maintainer, which is a metal appliance cemented in place to keep the area open prior to the permanent tooth erupting.
Your dentist will help determine which type of space maintainer will do the best work for your child, and will make a custom appliance using impressions of your child’s teeth. The space maintainer will be removed once the permanent tooth is ready to erupt.
If your child loses a tooth too early, make an appointment with Dr. Lisi at Kids Pediatric Dentistry, Allen Tx to discuss whether or not a space maintainer is needed for teeth development. While losing a baby tooth early does not always lead to orthodontic problems, it is always best to have a professional opinion to prevent your child from having to undergo a year or more of complicated orthodontic treatment.