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 to make room for permanent teeth at about age 6.

The first baby teeth to fall out are typically the two bottom front teeth (lower central incisors) and the two top front teeth (upper central incisors), followed by the lateral incisors, molars and canines. Molars typically fall out between ages 9 and 12 and are replaced by permanent teeth by about age 13.

Baby teeth usually stay in place until they are pushed out by permanent teeth. If a child loses a baby tooth early as a result of tooth decay or an accident, the teeth beside it might drift into the empty space. Teeth in the opposite jaw might also move up or down to fill the gap. This can crowd permanent teeth and cause them to come in crooked.

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 might 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 daily.
  • Eat a healthy diet and limit between-meal snacks.
  • 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.

Jan. 13, 2015