At first, a loose tooth may only have a slight wiggle. As your child pushes the tooth around with her tongue, it becomes even more flexible — sometimes you may wonder how it is hanging on.
We’ve seen this scenario hundreds of times. In fact, we’ve been through it with our own children! We know how important it is to handle a loose tooth properly because these baby teeth provide a path for permanent teeth to come in correctly.
Should you pull your child’s tooth or take a trip to the dentist to have it removed?
In general, you should never attempt to pull a child’s loose tooth by yourself. Doing so can easily damage tissue or leave parts of the bone still within the socket. Even worse, this damage could lead to an infection.
In fact, most loose teeth will eventually fall out naturally, without having to be forced. We believe the best thing to do is let Mother Nature take its course.
What happens when a baby tooth falls out?
By the time your child is three years old, she should have a full set of 20 primary teeth. When it’s time for the permanent tooth to arrive, the roots of the baby tooth dissolve. This allows it to become loose enough to fall out.
The tooth should be able to fall out naturally – and painlessly. This clears a path for the permanent tooth to come in. The American Dental Association has some useful information on when your child’s teeth should erupt. These eruption charts are available on the ADA website.
Is there any time when it is okay to pull your child’s loose tooth?
A video on the American Dental Association’s website outlines one way to gently remove a loose tooth. However, before you do so, please be sure that the tooth is very loose or dangling in the socket. Also, make sure that your child doesn’t feel any pain when you apply pressure to the tooth. If your child feels pain, that’s a sign that the roots may not have dissolved enough to safely remove the tooth.
Gently take a tissue, wrap it around the tooth and squeeze. The tooth should gently fall away.
Some important points to consider before attempting to remove your child’s tooth
You should NOT pull your child’s tooth if:
- It is only slightly loose. Teeth like this may still be firmly rooted in the socket.
- Your child says it hurts every time the tooth is touched or pulled.
- You haven’t spoken to your pediatric dentist. We want to give you the information you need to help you determine the best thing to do for your child’s teeth.
- Pulling it may damage the other teeth beside it.
Not sure what to do about your child’s loose tooth? Speak to us first!
We specialize in treating children of all ages, and we are very familiar with the challenges faced when they lose their baby teeth. If you notice that a tooth is loose, contact us so we can give you information you need and answer any questions.
Of course, you know better than to follow the old wives’ tail about tying some floss around the tooth and the other end around a doorknob. Ouch. That makes our mouths hurt just thinking about it! We’re not even go into all the things that are wrong with this scenario, but take it from us; this is one method you should never try.
And in case you’re wondering, the going rate for the Tooth Fairy is somewhere between one and five dollars per tooth.
Dental Express offers dental care for the entire family, including SmileCorrect, implants, emergency dental care and maintenance services. Our practice features compassionate care coupled with state-of-the-art dentistry at four convenient locations in San Diego: Downtown, Point Loma, Clairemont and Santee. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.
American Dental Association. Mouth Healthy. “Removing a Loose Tooth. Online at:
American Dental Association. Mouth Healthy. “Eruption Charts.”
Dental Health Resource Magazine. “How (and When) to Pull Your Child’s Loose Tooth.”