Parenting is about experiencing and appreciating the different milestones in your child’s life. One such milestone is teething, and after a few years, their primary or baby teeth give way to permanent teeth. However, there may be instances when this process may occur before time or delayed in some children.
When children lose their baby teeth, parents often have concerns and doubts about potential problems. Read this post as we answer the common question, “When do children lose teeth?” and know about what to expect.
When Do Babies’ Teeth Develop?
Most babies develop primary teeth, also known as milk teeth or baby teeth, between four and twelve months. However, teeth development begins during the gestation period itself. Thus, mothers are advised to eat healthily and avoid certain medicines, such as tetracycline, to ensure the fetus’s healthy teeth development (1).
At six weeks of gestation, the tooth’s basic substance is formed, and by three to four months of gestation, the hard tissue surrounding the teeth get formed. The next stage, known as eruption, occurs when the primary or baby teeth protrude through the gum after the child is born (1).
The first tooth generally appears or erupts by the age of six months, and by the age of three years, toddlers have a set of 20 primary teeth. However, as every child is different, the first tooth may erupt as early as four months in some children. These primary teeth are shed throughout childhood (1) (2).
When Do Children Start Losing Teeth?
The first set of teeth, also known as deciduous teeth, are replaced by permanent teeth. When a permanent tooth erupts, it causes reabsorption of the root of the primary teeth. This leads to loosening, and the baby’s tooth is held only by a small amount of tissue (3).
Usually, children start losing their primary teeth at around six years of age. The central incisors (the middle teeth in the front) are the first ones to be replaced by permanent incisors. By the age of 10 to 13 years, the last baby teeth (molars in the back) are replaced by permanent molars, and by the age of 21, all 32 permanent or adult teeth erupt (1) (2) (3).
How Many Baby Teeth Do Children Lose?
Between six and 13 years of age, children lose all 20 primary teeth to be replaced by permanent teeth. Specific developmental differences can also determine how many teeth will develop. When babies lose their teeth due to accident or decay, permanent teeth erupt prematurely. This may lead to crooked teeth due to limited space (1). Hence, it is essential to maintain good dental hygiene. Ensure your child brushes and flosses their teeth regularly. Also, ensure to take your child for dental check-ups at regular intervals.
Timeline For Tooth Eruption And Shedding
The average timeline for eruption and shedding of baby teeth is as follows (2).
|Lower central incisor
|Lower lateral incisor
|Lower canine (cuspid)
|Lower first molar
|Lower second molar
|Upper central incisor
|Upper lateral incisor
|Upper canine (cuspid)
|Upper first molar
|Upper second molar
How To Get Loose Teeth Out?
In anticipation of the tooth fairy, children may try to poke and pull out the loose tooth with a finger or tongue. They may also wish to pull it out as it can cause discomfort. If your child insists on pulling out the loose tooth, you can try these options (3).
- Hold the loose tooth with the help of a gauze or a tissue and twist it quickly to pull it out. Do not pull it out just because it makes the child uncomfortable. Sometimes, from becoming loose to dropping out, tooth shedding can take a few weeks to months.
- If a primary tooth does not loosen on its own even after your child has crossed the age of 13, take your child to a dentist for tooth extraction.
What To Do After A Child Loses A Tooth?
Here a few things you could do after your child loses a baby tooth.
- It is always a good idea to have a chat with your child about teeth and oral hygiene. It soothes the nerves and helps keep them calm in case of slight bleeding, tingling sensation, or pain.
- Inform them beforehand that the sensation and bleeding would be minor and end after some time.
- After the tooth falls, make the child rinse the mouth and hold a damp towel over it for a few minutes to stop the bleeding.
- In case of pain, use a doctor-recommended oral analgesic and watch for an hour. If the pain and bleeding persist, take the child to the dentist.
Remember that a dental appointment is not an indication of a problem.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommend that all children by the age of one see a pediatric dentist and have a “dental home” (4). After the eruption of the first primary tooth, and by their first birthday, take the child to a pediatric dentist. The dentist will check for any dental issues and offer you oral hygiene tips.
Why Do We Have Two Sets Of Teeth?
We have two sets of teeth in our lifetime — 20 baby teeth and 32 permanent teeth. Baby teeth not only help children eat but also act as placeholders and create appropriate space for the eruption of permanent teeth.
When a permanent tooth erupts, the root of the baby tooth is dissolved or reabsorbed. This causes the tooth to become wiggly, and it is only held by the surrounding gum tissue. When the baby tooth is shed, the adult tooth takes its place.
All baby teeth are not shed at once but gradually. This process is essential to maintain the jaw’s shape and facilitate chewing, biting, and speaking.
Children start losing their baby teeth by the age of six years. By the time they are ten to 12 years, they lose the last of their baby teeth, which are replaced by the permanent ones. Baby teeth act as placeholders for the permanent set of teeth. Thus, it is important to maintain good oral hygiene to prevent tooth decay or accidental loss and avoid premature eruption.