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How To Remove Baby Teeth

What happens to baby teeth?

Baby teeth will move when permanent or "adult” teeth are ready to come in. This is when permanent teeth replace the roots of the baby teeth. The baby teeth become loose and eventually they will fall out. The majority of children lose their teeth by age 6 and start to see adult teeth popping through.

The front teeth are more likely to be lost first. The molars, which are the larger teeth in the back of your mouth, usually fall out between the ages 10 and 12.

You might feel the need to pull your child's wiggly teeth if he/she has one. The following information below will help you navigate and be prepared to help your child when they start losing their baby teeth. 

Is it Okay to Pull Baby Teeth?

Many baby teeth can fall out by themselves but typically children are able to pull them out with their tongues or fingers. Only a very small amount of tissue can hold a tooth in place once it has gone from being loose to "wiggly.” This makes it simple for children to take out their own missing teeth. If your child is concerned about a loose tooth that’s currently hanging on by a thread, you may be asked to remove it.

If your child is 6 years old or older, it's likely okay to take out the tooth if:

  • It is very loose and just needs a bit of tissue to hold it together.

  • It is not due to a dental problem or accident (falling down and chipping/loosening a tooth).

But refrain from pulling it out if: 

  • It’s only slightly loose. When a tooth like this is pulled, the socket could bleed more and cause pain.
  • The tooth has been knocked out by an accident or other dental issue.
  • He is less than 5 years old. Early extractions of baby teeth can cause problems later, such as crooked or broken teeth.

Call the dentist if you are unsure if it is okay to pull a tooth that is about to fall out. If you plan on pulling your child's tooth make sure it is extremely loose. If it does not seem loose to not pull it out because this can mean the roots are not fully dissolved yet. 

How do you remove baby teeth?

It is best for your child to pull out their own teeth or let them loosen their teeth. If your child wants help, this is how you can do it.

  • For pain in your child's mouth, apply a warm compress to the gum.
  • Grab the tooth with a piece of tissue, gauze or a towel.
  • Gently, but quickly, twist the tooth to release it.

Here are some things to avoid:

  • To pull a tooth out, don't tie a string to it. This is not a safe method to remove a tooth. It can lead to pain or other problems.

  • Do not twist the tooth for too long. The tooth might not be ready to emerge if it takes more than two twists.

  • If your child is experiencing pain, don't continue twisting and wiggling. Pulling out the tooth prematurely can cause excessive bleeding. Consult the dentist if your child is experiencing extreme pain.

Avoid these above methods as they can cause jaw damage or damage your child soft tissue in their mouth. 

Will my child's baby teeth need to be removed? 

Typically your child's teeth will never need to be extracted by a dentist unless there is serious damage. If your baby’s tooth has been cracked or impacted this is a sign it will need to be extracted by their dentist. Another reason for having their tooth extracted is if it is starting to decay or seems infected. However, it is not recommended to extract their teeth if at all possible. A premature extraction can cause a lot of problems long term. This is due to pulling the tooth before the primary or adult tooth has started to erupt. Premature extraction of a baby tooth is always a last resort. Make sure to have a discussion with your dentist before following through with this procedure.

Having your child pull their own tooth

Your child may want to pull their own tooth without your help. If that is the case just remind them of a few things. They will want to wash their hands before they begin pulling their teeth. You can also let them know to use their tongue to wiggle it loose. Another option is giving them hard foods such as a carrot or apple to help loosen the tooth. These foods will also help clean your child’s teeth while hopefully making their baby teeth loose. 

Finding a dentist for my child

Getting a tooth removed or finding a dental plan can be expensive. If you don’t know where to begin looking or need a more low cost option, here a few:

  • Contact dental school students. Dentistry students often work for a low cost to help them gain experience. 
  • Go to a local community dental clinic. Most places you are not required to have dental insurance.
  • Emergency room. In most cases if you have health insurance but not dental insurance the ER will provide you with medicine or antibiotics for an infected tooth.
  • Visit the Department of Health and Human services website. This website will help you discover the right resources to find affordable dental care. 

When does a baby start teething?

Babies start teething and getting their first teeth between 4 and 7 months. This is just a general range as some children start getting teeth around the 9 month mark. So don’t be alarmed if there are no signs of teeth at 4 months. However, most babies begin teething around 2-3 months but again every baby is different so don’t get too worked up. Typically your baby’s first teeth will be the bottom front two. This is then followed by the top 2 front teeth as well. Listed below is the average amount of teeth that your baby will have at different ages in their life.

  • 4 teeth at 12 months
  • 8 teeth at 16 months
  • 12 teeth at 20 months
  • 16 teether at 24 months

If your baby has not had any signs of teeth coming through by 18 months this is when you should consider going to see a pediatrician. No signs of teeth by 18 months may be the cause of an underlying issue with your baby. These issues can include vitamin deficiency or underactive thyroid.  

When should your child see the dentist?

Call your dentist if your child has:

  • A baby tooth that remains loose for at least 6 months.
  • Although he has lost most of his baby teeth (but one or more are still coming out), the dentist may need to extract them. 
  • Pain, swelling, or other signs of infection such as swollen gums and pain.
  • Accidentally knocking a tooth out. 

Final Words

Children will have a total of 20 baby teeth and with time these will be replaced by permanent adult teeth. Around age 6 is when they will start to lose their baby teeth but in some cases it can take until age 8. Generally speaking if your child starts getting their teeth earlier, around 4 months, then you can expect them to start losing their baby teeth earlier as well. Same goes for if they get their teeth later you can predict them losing them at a later age as well. In order to help your child remove their baby teeth, be aware of the signs that your child's baby teeth are ready to come out!