Baby teeth: what to do when they fall out

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Catherine Le Nevez
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The fall of the first tooth is an important moment in the life of the child.

It is like the first step alone, or the first day of kindergarten: a sign that the little one is growing up.

Around this very important event they even arose myths and traditions, like those of the tooth fairy or the little mouse mouse: fantastic characters ready to give a penny in exchange for a tooth that has just fallen out and left under the pillow or in some other secret place.

But beyond the folklore, what really happens when a tooth falls out? Is it painful? Do you have to do something special, apart from keeping the penny ready?


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Around the age of 6 the first falls

There is no precise moment in which, for everyone, the exchange begins, that is the fall of the milk teeth to make room for the permanent ones. "It is an individual process, times depend from child to child "explains, associate professor of odontostomatological diseases at the University of Insubria in Varese and expert in deciduous teeth, that is, milk teeth, which are destined to fall out.

"Actually, the first sign that something is changing in the baby's teething is not a fall, but a rash. Even before anything starts to fall, in fact, the first permanent molars begin to arrive, that occupy a place - at the back of the mouth - already free, since there are no milk teeth on it. "The first molars arrive around 6 years: usually first at the bottom and then at the top, first in girls and then in boys Their appearance is accompanied by the typical manifestations of dental eruption, such as intense salivation.

At this point, the first milk teeth really begin to fall out. "Net of individual variability, we are between five and a half years and six and a half years"comments the dentist. Usually the lower central incisors fall out first, then the upper ones, followed by the lateral incisors, the milk molars and the upper canines and then the lower ones. Again, females generally begin the exchange earlier than males.

Swing, swing and ... fall!

The process that leads to the loss of milk teeth begins with the gradual resorption of their roots. "It's like removing the foundations of a house, which at a certain point simply rests on the ground," explains Caprioglio. "If there is something underneath that pushes, the house falls, and that is exactly what happens to the milk tooth, which comes ousted from the permanent one below".

In fact, what happens is that the tooth begins to wobble: at first just barely, then more and more conspicuously until it falls, alone or with some little help. Often it is the child himself who tears it up, because the swinging in his mouth bothers him a little. Other times it is the parents who intervene: just grab the tooth with a gauze and pull it by turning it slightly.

In all of this, the child generally feels no pain. A little annoyance, yes. Or a little twinge, but nothing more.

What if it doesn't fall?

The process of falling out of a milk tooth has a variable duration depending on the type of tooth: "The incisors, which have very short roots, do very quickly, while the milk molars can take a few months to be ready to fall out. everything "says the expert.

But what to do if the tooth wobbles, days go by, and nothing happens? In these circumstances, the best thing to do is consult a pediatric dentist, who, depending on the situation, will advise you to wait a little longer, or he will remove the tooth himself. "At a certain point - says Caprioglio - these teeth must fall out, because otherwise there is a risk that they will alter the eruption of the underlying permanent teeth, which could take alternative paths". Basically, come up crooked.

Other sources for this article: information material of the American Mayo Clinic

Updated on 17.01.2022

  • children's teeth
  • teething
  • fallen milk teeth
  • 6-14 children years
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