We get a lot of questions about the transition kids go through when their baby teeth fall out. Many of you are wondering how many teeth they will lose, how many teeth will they gain, or maybe when their teeth will fall out. Whatever your questions are, you will find the answers here.
How many teeth do babies have?
This is the first question I had, and many other parents ask as well. It’s not like we can easily poke around in their mouths and count without possibly getting bit. I found out that every child will have 2 sets of teeth over their lifetime. The first is a primary set of 20 baby teeth which are commonly known as milk teeth. While this first set of teeth will arrive in different stages, a baby’s first tooth will usually erupt at around 6 months of age and the full set will be complete by 3 years of age. This first set of teeth are smaller and whiter in appearance than permanent teeth, due to their thicker layer of protective enamel, which explains why they look so different. Additionally these milk teeth have smaller nerve endings, and shorter thinner roots anchoring them into the gums.
When do they lose their first tooth?
I remember wondering when my oldest would lose her first tooth and so was she, as all the other children her age seemed to be losing theirs already. I wondered if something was wrong. If you find yourself in the same position, try not to worry. As your child grows older, they will begin to lose these smaller teeth, usually at around age 5 or 6, to make room for their second set of permanent adult teeth. Most children will have lost all their baby teeth by age 12 to 14, replaced by a set of 28 permanent adult teeth.
Later in life, an additional 4 molars referred to as wisdom teeth will emerge between age 17-21, leading to the full set of 32 adult teeth by age 21. There can be a great deal of variance between individual children so there is no need to worry if you feel your baby is losing their teeth early, or that their teeth are not falling out on time.
At what age do the different types of teeth fall out?
During this transitional phase you will notice the loss of baby teeth, and the eruption of new adult teeth. A baby set of teeth consists of 8 incisors, 4 canines, and 8 molars, while a full adult set will contain 8 incisors, 4 canines, 8 molars (plus 4 wisdom teeth), and 8 premolars.
Incisors are the flat teeth found at the very front of the mouth used to cut and chop food. They are usually the first to come in as a baby and the first to be lost at around age 6-7. These top “two front teeth” commonly referred to in the nursery rhymes, are often the largest and most visible teeth at the front of the mouth, and can take a little longer to come in than the other incisors.
The smaller incisors on either side of these and at the bottom, are usually lost at around age 7-8. Next to the incisors you will find the 4 canines, which are sharp pointed teeth used to grip and tear food. Children tend to lose their canines between ages 9-12.
At the back of the mouth are large flat teeth used for crushing and grinding food called molars. Children start off with 8 baby molars, which they begin to lose at around age 9-10, with the last being lost around age 11-12. In addition to these 8 molars being replaced, and adult set of teeth has an additional 8 premolars which are smaller molars not present in baby teeth. These premolars may arrive around age 10-12, whilst the baby molars are still transitioning into adult molars.
In some cases this means you may see that .baby teeth are not falling out, but new teeth are coming in. As the teeth compete for space within the mouth, sometimes these new teeth may appear behind or in front of baby teeth that have not yet fallen out. This happens quite frequently and is not usually a problem, but if you are worried, a dentist can advise you if the baby tooth needs to be extracted.
Alternatively you may be worried that a missing tooth is not being replaced fast enough, but this is usually just our impatience speaking, as a replacement tooth can take up to 6 months to make an appearance. This is usually a problem when you have scheduled the family Christmas photos and the gummy gap is going to steal the show! But similar to the variance between when a child loses their first tooth, there is also variance for when each individual tooth isk lost. Try not to worry to much if your child is ahead or behind. It really is just a guideline to give you an idea of when and what to expect during these tooth loss changes. Besides, everyone has that one toothless photo, right?!
Is this normal?
A few times over the years I found myself Googling different odd things when one of my children had a tooth come out that was a little different. One time I found a tooth that was a bit longer on one side than usual, another time there was some fleshy bit attached, and once there was even a gaping hole in the gums I was super worried about. The point is that sometimes you may think you have found something odd when looking at a lost tooth or the space left behind. but most likely it is perfectly normal.
When a baby tooth falls out, it is usually just the hollow part of the tooth that can be seen above the gum line. Usually as a permanent tooth prepares to come in, the root of the baby tooth that anchors it within the gum dissolves away. Without the support, the baby tooth will begin to wiggle and eventually falls (or gets pulled) out.
Depending on the individual tooth you may also see some part of the root or gum tissue still attached to the lost tooth. Additionally there may be a small amount of bleeding, a hollow hole left in the gum, or even a dark red fleshy bit where the tooth used to be. This is all perfectly normal and you shouldn’t worry unless your child is bleeding excessively or in pain.
Should I pull out my child’s loose tooth?
Baby teeth are meant to fall out on their own, but their wiggly nature can make them a nuisance for children when trying to eat. It is really important not to pull out a baby tooth too early as you can cause damage or introduce infections to the area.
There are many ways people try to pull their kids teeth out, but the safest way is to let your child wiggle it out with their tongue. If the tooth needs more force than a bit of back and forth movement, it probably isn’t ready just yet.
Additionally you should discourage your child from using dirty hands or objects to try and bite or knock the tooth out, as it could introduce bacteria or damage surrounding teeth. When a baby tooth is ready to come out, it will fall out on it is own, or with very little force, and a minimal amount of bleeding.
For the most part, all my children’s teeth have come out of their own accord, usually when there is no money in the house. But there has been a few times that I have seen a tooth hanging sideways barely even attached. In this case I would wash my hands thoroughly and use a clean piece of gauze to grip the tooth and gently pull it away. It didn’t offer up any resistance and wasn’t painful at all.
What do I do with the lost teeth?
In our house, we put the tooth under the pillow at night for the Tooth Fairy to bring a shiny coin or treat. Some parents collect the teeth in a memory box for their child, while others bury or throw the teeth away. If you are worried about illnesses that run in your family or if your child is poorly then you can save the stem cells within their baby teeth in case they need future treatment. Maybe if you are feeling sentimental then you can have the baby teeth made into jewelry. There really is no one size fits all answer here, and it is completely up to you what you want to do with them.