Now that you know all about when to expect all your child’s teeth to arrive, here is an overview of what to expect in terms of when teeth usually fall out and what you can do to support your child during this sometimes painful experience:
“My tooth is loose!”
Those words represent a big milestone in your child’s life. Baby teeth have to fall out to make way for permanent teeth to grow — a process that lasts six or more years from start to finish.
Learn the right way to care for your child’s teeth – and common mistakes to avoid.
First in, first out
A child’s 20 baby teeth, which typically come in by age 3, usually fall out in the order in which they came in.
That means the lower center teeth (lower center incisors) are usually the first to go, around age 5 or 6. The top center pair is next. A baby tooth typically doesn’t loosen until the permanent tooth below pushes it up to take its place.
Some children lose their first tooth as early as 4 or as late as 7. Generally, the younger the child was when the teeth came in, the earlier they fall out.
It’s possible for kids to lose a baby tooth too early, before the permanent tooth is ready to erupt, because of an accident or dental disease. Sometimes a pediatric dentist will put a spacer (a custom-fit plastic placeholder) in the place where a baby tooth fell out too soon until the adult tooth is ready, to prevent future spacing problems. If your child begins to lose teeth before 4, you should consult a dentist to make sure there’s no underlying disease.
It’s also possible for a child to reach 7 or 8 without losing any baby teeth. In such cases, there’s probably nothing wrong, but it’s a good idea to consult a dentist for X-rays to assess the situation.
Out with the old
Encourage your child to gently wiggle a wobbler. Some loose teeth can actually be rotated because the root underneath has almost completely disintegrated.
But remind your child not to yank a tooth before it’s ready to fall out on its own because it makes the broken root more vulnerable to infection. A loose tooth that refuses to come out may need to be pulled by a dentist, though this is hardly ever necessary.
Create a growth chart to see how your child measures up against other children in height, weight, and head size.
In with the new
The new teeth may look bigger, especially those first few. That’s because they are! Adult teeth also tend to be less white than baby teeth and have pronounced ridges because they haven’t been used yet for biting and chewing.
Sometimes, not often, a couple of new teeth come in before the old ones are gone, creating two rows of pearly whites. This is a temporary stage, sometimes called shark’s teeth.
Brushing is now more important than ever. You’ll probably need to supervise the process until your child is around 8, and until then he won’t need to use more than a pencil-eraser-size dot of toothpaste. Some doctors recommend using toothpaste without fluoride until the child can spit, if tap water contains enough fluoride.
Replace toothbrushes every two or three months to reduce harmful bacteria and keep them working at their best. And make sure your child sees a dentist twice a year.
Most kids lose their last baby teeth around age 12 or 13, about the time the 12-year molars appear.
Be sure to share information with your child’s Au Pair or other child care provider as well as his or her teacher if your child is experiencing difficulty during teething.
For more information about Go Au Pair and a cultural child care experience for your family, visit www.goaupair.com or contact LAR Joan Lowell in the Providence, RI and surrounding areas at firstname.lastname@example.org or 401.309.1925.