Archive for December 2013

Losing baby teeth

The question often arises about the timing of when baby teeth are supposed to be lost and the appropriate age that permanent teeth should grow in. As an orthodontist, Dr. Whitehead is an expert on tooth eruption sequence, problems that may arise from altered eruption, and techniques and preventative treatments to prevent tooth eruption problems from occurring in the first place.

Children lose their baby teeth in order to create space in the mouth for their permanent teeth to grow in. This process can start as early as age 4 or as late as age 7. Generally, the earlier your child started teething, the earlier their baby teeth will start to fall out.

The process of replacing all baby teeth with permanent ones can take 6 years or more. Usually, teeth fall out in the same order in which they grew in. The first year, you can expect the lower, then upper middle teeth to fall out, followed by a brief break in tooth loss. When the loss begins again, the upper and lower first primary molars are the next to go, followed by the lower cuspids. The upper cuspid and the upper and lower primary molars are the last baby teeth your child will lose.

It is possible for children to lose a baby tooth too early, before the permanent tooth below it is ready to erupt. If your child loses a tooth before age four, you should take him or her to a dentist, so they can check for any underlying disease. Additionally, it is a very good idea to have the child checked by the orthodontist so we can perform an exam and take appropriate x-rays. When teeth are lost early, it may cause the surrounding teeth and bite to shift, which may lead to more severe problems at a later age. As a leading lexington sc orthodontist, Dr. Whitehead may recommend placing a custom-made spacer to serve as a placeholder for the adult tooth until it is ready to grow in. On the opposite end, if your child reaches age 8 without losing any baby teeth, there’s probably nothing wrong, but it’s a good idea to consult your Lexington orthodontist for X-rays to be sure.

One tip for getting through this process in as pain-free a manner as possible is to encourage your child to gently wiggle loose teeth, and not yank them. Pulling a tooth out abruptly and breaking the underlying root leaves your child’s mouth vulnerable to infection.

Most children find losing their baby teeth to be quite fun. Ideally, the biggest decision a parent will need to make is how much money the Tooth Fairy should bring in exchange for each tooth! If you have any questions about the sequence of eruption of your child’s teeth, or why a tooth hasn’t fallen out by a certain age, contact Whitehead Orthodontics at 803-996-5100, and schedule a personal consultation with Dr. Whitehead, your Lexington orthodontist!