At what age do children start losing their baby teeth?
Answers from Alan Carr, D.M.D.
A child's baby teeth (primary teeth) begin to loosen and fall out on their own to make room for permanent teeth at about age 6. Timing can vary, though, and girls generally lose baby teeth earlier than do boys. The last baby teeth typically fall out by age 12 or 13.
Baby teeth usually fall out in the order in which they erupted — first the two bottom front teeth (lower central incisors), followed by the two top front teeth (upper central incisors), the lateral incisors, first molars, canines and second molars. If a child loses a baby tooth early as a result of tooth decay or an accident, a permanent tooth may erupt early and potentially come in crooked due to limited space.
Some children are excited to lose their baby teeth, while others are nervous about this childhood milestone. If your child wants you to pull out a loose tooth, grasp it firmly with a tissue or piece of gauze and remove it with a quick twist. If the tooth is resistant, wait a few days and try again. If you're concerned about a baby tooth that doesn't seem to loosen sufficiently on its own, check with your child's dentist. He or she may recommend a wait-and-see approach or an extraction in the dental office.
When your child starts to lose his or her baby teeth, reinforce the importance of proper dental care. For example:
- Remind your child to brush his or her teeth at least twice a day. Supervise and offer assistance as needed.
- Help your child floss his or her teeth at bedtime.
- Limit eating and drinking between meals and at bedtime — especially sugary treats and drinks, such as candy and soda.
- Schedule regular dental visits for your child, either with your family dentist or a pediatric dentist.
- Ask the dentist about use of fluoride treatments and dental sealants to help prevent tooth decay.
With proper care, you can help your child's permanent teeth last a lifetime.
Apr. 16, 2011
See more Expert Answers
- Eruption charts (tooth eruption charts). American Dental Association. http://www.ada.org/2930.aspx?currentTab=1. Accessed Jan. 5, 2011.
- Tooth eruption: The permanent teeth. Journal of the American Dental Association. 2006;137:127.
- Fluoride treatments in the dental office: Extra protection for your teeth. Journal of the American Dental Association. 2007;138:420.
- Diet and tooth decay. Journal of the American Dental Association. 2002;133:527.
- When children begin to lose their baby teeth. American Academy of Pediatrics. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/oral-health/Pages/When-Children-Begin-to-Lose-their-Baby-Teeth.aspx. Accessed Dec. 28, 2010.
- Wright JT. Anatomy and development of the teeth. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Jan. 5, 2011.