Milk teeth, also called deciduous teeth, baby teeth, temporary teeth, and primary teeth – are the first set of teeth that grow and develop in your child. A child losing his/her milk tooth is a natural phenomenon and your child’s teeth usually fall off in the same way and order, in which it erupts. 

In fact, your child’s dentist will tell you that falling off of the milk teeth is a big milestone to be celebrated since they are making way for your child’s permanent set of teeth (also known as adult teeth, are the ones that replace primary teeth and are usually 32 in number). 

Children start losing their milk teeth at the age of 5 to 7 years, but every child is different. Your child might be older or younger when his/her teeth start to fall off. Dealing with the loss of your child’s first set of teeth can cause some distress. Read on to understand how to tackle this phase and things you can do for your child to make it a less stressful and a more happy or fun thing.

Understanding How Milk Teeth Fall

You can expect the first tooth to fall out around age six. Front teeth generally fall out first. The last teeth, usually molars (the large, flat teeth at the back of the mouth), tend to fall out around age twelve. 

There is no exact schedule as to when all teeth will fall out, and if your child seems behind schedule, do not worry. Once a tooth starts to get loose, it can fall out rapidly, or it may take many weeks for it to finally fall out. 

Be Aware of Tooth Decay

If you notice your child’s first tooth has fallen at an early age, say around when your child is just 4 years old, it is advisable to meet your child’s dentist. Remember this tooth might have fallen as a result of tooth decay or damage. If not taken care of, the decay can spread and it is bound to affect the growth and development of your child’s permanent teeth. 

Another important thing to be mindful of is to watch how long it takes for the adult tooth to come in after the decayed baby tooth has fallen out. If it takes six months or longer for that adult tooth to appear, you might want to visit the dentist again. 

The goal here is to keep a track of the loss of baby teeth and the development of adult teeth. There are a lot of fun ways by which you can do this.

Important Tips to Keep in Mind 

The foremost thing to do is to let your child know that losing a baby teeth is normal. This process can start anywhere around or after 5 years of age when your child is old enough to understand this phenomenon. Give them the assurance that it is neither scary nor painful and that it is for their good.

A few points and tips for care that you should remember at this stage are:

  • Every time your child loses a tooth, it is natural for some bleeding to occur. Ensure that you are calm because only then your child will also remain calm. Help your child rinse his/her mouth with warm water or clean it with a warm washcloth after the tooth has fallen out.

  • Ask your child not to brush too hard in the area of the lost tooth. Your child might have the tendency to brush too hard in the empty area; this can cause discomfort and irritation to the gums and surrounding teeth. Let them be gentle and avoid flossing in the area of lost teeth.

  • At the age of 5, it is quite natural for your child to be embarrassed by that gap in his/her teeth, and him/her can resist going to school or playing. It is important to explain that everyone loses teeth in this way, and a new tooth is on the way to replace it.

  • Remind your child that once all the permanent teeth come in, there will be no more replacements. 

Practicing proper dental habits are more important and your child has to start developing them right away!

Make Losing a Tooth Fun For Your Child

To make this process even more smooth and fun for your child to keep away stress, you can create exciting situations and teach your child how to take care of his/her new set of teeth that is on its way. 

Quick tips include:

a) Establish a tradition with the Tooth Fairy. Tradition states that when children lose one of their baby teeth, they should place it underneath their pillow or on their bedside table and a tooth fairy will visit while they sleep, replacing their lost tooth with a small payment.

Teach your child about the tooth fairy and get him/her excited to look forward to something, everything he/she loses a tooth. This is a great way to reduce the fear and stress of your child. 

  • To make things more exciting, try replacing your child’s tooth under his/her pillow with a note from the tooth fairy, saying “Thank you for this beautiful tooth! Keep up the good work of brushing and flossing your teeth daily!”

  • You may keep little gifts such as chocolates or some stationery to add some variety and this way, encourage your child to keep practicing oral hygiene habits daily. 

b) Read books to your child. Choosing a book that speaks about losing teeth for the first time is a great way to educate your child and leave your child feeling more confident about the situation. Encourage him/her to ask you questions and try to address them correctly, without installing any fear or using negative emotions in your response.

c) Celebrate every time a tooth falls off. Get your family involved and let everyone celebrate the fall of each tooth of your child. Use positive language and get your child excited for the brand new tooth that is on its way!

Now that you are more confident in dealing with the situation of your child’s baby teeth falling, take a look at some frequently asked questions that can become a concern for you, if you are not aware.

1) What if your child swallows a broken or a fallen tooth?

Do not panic if this happens. The tooth will pass through your child’s body like everything else. It may be upsetting but it is not harmful and will not make your child sick.

2) What to do if your child loses a tooth due to an injury or trauma?

If any trauma occurs, it is always good to take your child to the dentist as soon as possible. Your child’s dentist will check the stability of the baby tooth, and make sure there is no risk of any other infection or permanent damage.

3) Is it OK to pull out any loose teeth of your child?

Allow your child’s loose tooth to fall off on its own as it is a natural process and will take some time. Do not encourage your child to pull out his/her loose tooth and ask them to resist that urge, to avoid any further complication.

4) When will the permanent teeth replace the gaps?

It will take a few weeks for the permanent tooth to erupt after the baby tooth falls off but can take some more time to fully erupt in the oral cavity. If you find any damage or discoloration with a permanent tooth, it is a good idea to consult your child’s dentist. 

Losing a tooth is one of the first dental experiences that your child will have. Ensure to stay calm and guide them through the process. Make the experience fun and memorable and remember to schedule appointments with your child’s dentist regularly.

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.