What to do if your child has a painful, wobbly tooth

As your children grow, there will come a time when he or she has a loose baby tooth that is really bothering them. You then wonder – do I let it fall out naturally? Or do I pull it out? Of course, it IS very tempting to pull a tooth, but, it’s not always the *best course of action*. There are a few things you should give thought to BEFORE you pull a loose, wobbly tooth.

Why is it loose?  A loose tooth doesn’t always mean there is an adult tooth there waiting to come out. Sometimes children knock their teeth loose simply by falling or playing. If your child has knocked a tooth loose, you need to make an appointment with your dentist to get it checked out. This is to rule out any risk of infection or damage to the permanent tooth.

First in – first out – Children will often lose their teeth in roughly the same order they got them in. The front teeth will go first, often around the age of six or seven. When the permanent teeth start coming in the roots of the baby teeth dissolve until the tooth falls out – painlessly, and with very little blood. If the tooth isn’t ready to come out yet, attempts made pulling or tugging at it will only cause your child unnecessary pain. If you’re not sure why the tooth is loose, and it seems too early to be ready to fall out, contact your dentist.

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In general, it’s best NOT to pull a loose tooth, let the tooth wiggle until it is ready to fall out on its own, it will minimise the pain and the bleeding associated with losing a tooth.

Do prepare your child for the lose of their first tooth – Between the ages of 5 and 7 are the typical ages children lose their teeth, most children will have heard about the tooth fairy, and you can prepare your child by talking to them and explaining what it means to lose a tooth, and, what they can expect. Take time to describe the process in a positive way and explain how a tooth will become *wiggly* because an adult tooth is ready to take its place. You can prepare your child by buying or making a *tooth pillow* for him or her to place their toothon for the tooth fairy. Creating a little *excitement* will help prepare them for when the big day comes.

Do be ready for support and comfort – loose teeth may cause some discomfort and the gums around the tooth can become swollen or tender, and usually stops when the tooth is lost. If your child seems to be uncomfortable a cold compress applied to the area can help. There may be some bleeding which can be dealt with by holding a damp face washer or gauze in place until the bleeding stops.

Know when to seek professional help– a delay in tooth loss often corresponds to late tooth development over all. If your child hasn’t lost a tooth by the age of 8 it’s time to consult your dentist. X-rays can be taken to check for the presence of adult teeth under the gums surface, and to see if there are any underlying problems that need to be addressed. The dentist may have to intervene by extracting a stubborn tooth. Occasionally some children may have a double row of teeth with the permanent tooth trying to come in either in front of, or behind the baby teeth which haven’t been lost, or may not even be loose yet. In this case your dentist will decide whether removal of the baby teeth is needed.

Remind your child that good oral hygiene is important – loosing baby teeth is a good time to remind your child about the importance of his *forever teeth*. These are the valuable second set of teeth that can’t be replaced. It’s important your child knows to brush ALL their teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, and to floss between any teeth that are in contact with each other. An adult should always supervise and help with the child’s oral hygiene until they are able to manage on their own. Regular dental check-ups are vital it’s the only way your dentist can help your child continue with their dental hygiene to prevent dental disease, they can also catch any problems before they turn into much larger issues.

Reward your child for losing their tooth –  it’s still an exciting time, and its part of the growing up process. While some children will be upset about loosing a tooth they should be encouraged to *wiggle* the tooth, so it can fall out on its own.