Your Best Guide to Baby Teeth

1) Why do we lose baby teeth?

Our mouths grow as we get older. We need larger, more substantial teeth to accommodate eating throughout our lives than baby teeth can provide. If we waited until we were older to get teeth, we would live the 6-7 years of our lives with no teeth, which wouldn't be sustainable, especially in the primeval world in which humans used to live. We need the ability to grind food from young age after we are weened off mother's milk.

Losing baby teeth to get permanent teeth is an evolutionary success in humans. Physiologically, we lose teeth because incoming permanent teeth start the process of dissolving the roots of the baby teeth as the permanent teeth come in. This is often why if someone is missing a permanent tooth, or a permanent tooth gets lost (impacted) on the way into the mouth, the root of the baby tooth sometimes never dissolves and the baby tooth stays in place.

2. What's the best way to handle a loose tooth?

- the best way to handle a baby tooth is to have the child wiggle it out with clean hands. a twisting motion can be very successful is separating the gum fibers from the remnants of the baby tooth. Most baby teeth will wiggle out successfully this way. If the tooth is very firm and immovable, or if a permanent tooth is coming in next to the baby tooth in the wrong spot, we recommend getting a consultation from an orthodontist to determine what to do. In certain situations, the orthodontist will prescribe extractions of baby teeth to be completed by a general dentist or pediatric dentist.

3. What precautions need to be taken? 

Children should wash their hands before attempting to loosen their teeth. Also, when in doubt, you should ask your dentist to make sure the tooth that the child is attempting to remove is a baby tooth. 99% of the time it clearly is, but it never hurts to ask your orthodontist or pediatric dentist if you have a question.

4. Any other thing parents should know? 

Parents should see a general or pediatric dentist for their children's dental care starting when the first teeth come in. Parents should then take their children to an orthodontist starting at age 7 for their initial consultation to evaluate how the baby teeth are wiggling out and the permanent teeth are coming in. Most orthodontists offer free consultations and getting consultations when children are younger can often solve problems that would be impossible to fix later, or may prevent much more complicated situations from arising.