Baby teeth are important for a young child’s health and development, but as kids grow, those little teeth no longer serve their purpose and start to fall out. This might be a bittersweet milestone for parents—your kiddo is growing up!—but for kids, it’s all excitement and anticipation to see what the tooth fairy will leave them. Here’s what you need to know about how and when kids start losing baby teeth.
When do baby teeth start to fall out?
Setting aside accidents, falls, and other dental emergencies, baby teeth usually start to fall out when a child is around six-years-old. There are exceptions, though, and these are also normal. A good rule of thumb is that if your child was a late teether, they’re likely to lose their baby teeth later too; early teethers are likely to start losing their baby teeth earlier.
Here’s a general timeframe for when you can expect kids to start losing their baby teeth:
Lower central incisors – 6 to 7 years old
Upper central incisors – 6 to 7 years old
Upper lateral incisors – 7 to 8 years old
Lower lateral incisors – 7 to 8 years old
Upper first molars – 9 to 11 years old
Lower first molars – 9 to 11 years old
Upper canines – 10 to 12 years old
Lower canines – 9 to 12 years old
Lower second molars – 10 to 12 years old
Upper second molars – 10 to 12 years old
What happens if baby teeth fall out earlier?
As mentioned in the previous section, there are outliers and exceptions, so if your child loses their first tooth naturally at the age of 5 instead of 6, it’s not anything to be concerned about. Only when a baby tooth falls out due to dental trauma is it cause for concern; when a tooth falls out naturally, it’s because the adult tooth is ready to erupt, but a tooth that is knocked out may not be replaced by an adult tooth for a few years. A space maintainer may be recommended to keep neighboring teeth from drifting into the newly opened spot and blocking the adult tooth from erupting when the time comes.
What should I do when my child loses a baby tooth?
Give your child a saltwater solution to rinse with; if the area is bleeding, you can also provide them with a sterile piece of gauze to apply pressure until the bleeding stops. If your child is experiencing any swelling or discomfort, a cold, wet washcloth can help.
How many baby teeth fall out?
Most of the time, all of the baby teeth will fall out. If a child's baby teeth don’t fall out by the time they're in their early teens, it could indicate a dental or orthodontic problem; for example, some children may be missing adult teeth, or the adult teeth could be impacted.
Should I pull out my child’s loose tooth?
No, we don’t recommend that parents do this. Allowing your child to wiggle the tooth on their own is fine, but pulling a tooth out (even when you think it’s just hanging on by a thread!) can cause pain and bleeding. Although you may have humorous stories of a parent or relative pulling one of your teeth when you were growing up, it has the potential to be painful if something goes wrong.
Is it normal for adult teeth to grow behind baby teeth?
It's normal in the sense that it happens and isn't particularly unusual, but it might be a concern if the baby teeth never fall out. This problem usually resolves on its own, although a baby tooth may need to be extracted on rare occasions.