What If My Child’s Baby Teeth Aren’t Falling Out?

Kids can’t get braces until all their baby teeth fall out. If they’re lucky, their adult teeth have erupted in a perfectly aligned position and delivered a healthy, pain-free smile for life. Most kids, though, need some sort of orthodontic intervention. If baby teeth are hanging tight, that journey to an aligned smile will take longer than anticipated and likely involve braces.

How the Baby Teeth Journey Works

For kids who have crowding, a palatal expander and the braces that come with it can be placed if the top front teeth have erupted properly. Once phase one treatment is finished, young patients will be ready to get a retainer and wait for the rest of their baby teeth to fall out before they begin phase two of treatment with full braces.

Baby teeth fall out when their roots melt away and the tooth becomes hollow. There may even be pink or red spots of tissue in the tooth notifying you that it’s ready to depart. But what if the teeth still don’t come out, even if they’re loose, even if they look like they should be falling out?

Talk to Your Orthodontist

It’s always best to let baby teeth fall out naturally, especially if they’re already loose. Your child (or you) may feel a little weird about wiggling that tooth and feeling tissues twist and stretch and make noise, but a little effort over time will eventually lead to a lost tooth.

There are times and circumstances, however, when a baby tooth won’t come out easily on its own, no matter how much you coax it. Then it’s time to talk to your orthodontist:

  • Shark tooth: When a permanent tooth erupts behind or alongside a baby tooth but the baby tooth is not loosening, you may need a professional tooth extraction.
  • Crowding: If there isn’t enough room for permanent teeth to move in, normal eruption can be blocked and baby teeth may not be able to pop out naturally.
  • Missing teeth: If there is a missing adult tooth because of genetics or otherwise, the baby tooth may be indefinitely rooted in place.

Orthodontic Considerations for Stubborn Baby Teeth

It’s good to know the basics about baby tooth loss and orthodontic treatment so you know what to expect for your child:

  • The most likely time for first baby teeth to be lost is 6 years old. Some kids may lose theirs a year earlier or later, both of which are normal.
  • By age 8, the average kid has lost their four front teeth on top and bottom.
  • Between ages 8 and 10, there is a break in tooth loss and eruption and is often when your orthodontist recommends interceptive orthodontic treatment.
  • Near age 10, remaining baby teeth start falling out and all are lost usually by age 13. Girls may reach this milestone a few years earlier than boys.

See Your Orthodontist with Any Questions

Your orthodontist is always ready to help you figure out what’s going on with your child’s dentition, alignment, and dental development. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Soleil at Soleil Orthodontics in Woodinville, WA, to learn about baby teeth and more.

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