As parents, we naturally want the very best or our children. And healthy teeth, even if it is just their baby teeth, is no exception.

Generally speaking, children shouldn’t lose their milk teeth before age 4. In most cases, children will naturally lose these teeth between the ages of 6 and 12. In this blog post, we will detail what happens when a child loses their baby teeth early and how it can impact their oral health.

Which Baby Teeth Normally Fall Out First?

Before going over what causes baby teeth to fall out early, let’s get a better understanding of how they fall out under normal circumstances. Before getting their permanent teeth, children will start off with 20 baby teeth, which they will start to develop when they are between 6 and 12 months.

Once a child has reached the age of 5, the roots of their baby teeth will begin to shrink, causing them to naturally loosen and ultimately begin to fall out one by one. This shrinkage is a result of their permanent teeth starting to develop.

Typically, baby teeth will fall out in the same order in which they came in, meaning their lower center incisors will fall out first. From there, they will lose their upper center incisors. This process will continue until they have lost all of their baby teeth. The first permanent teeth that a child develops will be their molars.

What Happens When a Child Loses Their Baby Teeth Prematurely?

To better understand what happens when deciduous teeth fall out prematurely, it helps to know a little more about teeth in general first.

According to the American Dental Association, our first set of teeth are our deciduous teeth, which erupt from the gums at the age of 6 months, enabling us to consume solid foods. They also serve as place holders for our permanent teeth. In short, they are our “starter” teeth.

That said, most children will start to develop their permanent teeth around the age of 6, with their molars being the first to come in. By the time they reach the age of 13, all 28 of their permanent teeth should have emerged, and they should no longer have any baby teeth remaining.

Of course, this is a best-case scenario. As many parents can attest, things do not always go according to plan when it comes to the health and wellbeing of our children.

If a child loses a baby tooth too soon, it can significantly impact their oral health by causing the following problems:

  • Crowding
  • Poor jaw muscle development
  • Poor bone development
  • An incorrect bite
  • Alignment problems

In some cases, these problems may have to be corrected with braces and other orthodontic treatments.

What Can Cause a Child to Lose a Baby Tooth Early?

Much like adults, children can lose teeth due to trauma or severe decay. And also, like adults, children can also develop periodontal disease, which, coincidentally, is the leading cause of tooth loss in America, according to the National Institute of Health.

As far as dental trauma is concerned, it is not uncommon for children to lose their baby teeth while engaging in sports or playing with their friends. Cavities can also cause tooth loss if the tooth becomes severely decayed. For this reason, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) advises parents to start scheduling regular dental exams for their children by the age of 1. These exams make it possible to detect cavities before they give way to decay.

What Treatments Are Available for a Baby Tooth That Falls Out Too Soon?

If you have noticed that your child has lost one or more of their baby teeth before the age of 4, you should schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist sooner rather than later.

During your child’s dental appointment, the dentist will likely take x-rays and examine their oral cavity for signs of periodontal disease and other factors that may have contributed to the tooth falling out prematurely. Provided that there are no signs of infection or other problems, the dentist will likely insert dental space maintainers in the space left behind by the missing tooth.

These devices are designed to ensure that their permanent teeth come in straight and adequately fill the space once occupied by their baby teeth. You should also take your child to a pediatric dentist if they lost a baby tooth prematurely due to trauma as their injuries may also include damaged gum tissue or fractures to the jawbone. An x-ray will reveal the true extent of their injuries and will allow the dentist to recommend the best course of treatment.

Prevention

While it is not always possible to prevent baby teeth from falling out early, there are things that you, as a parent, can do to lower the chances of it happening to your child, some of which include

  • Making sure they wear mouthguards while engaging in sports
  • Making sure they practice good oral hygiene
  • Making sure they brush twice per day
  • Making sure they properly floss in-between teeth
  • Scheduling regular dental exams

Losing baby teeth is a rite of passage as children get older; however, they shouldn’t fall out prematurely. The best way to go about preventing this from happening is by implementing some of the tips outlined in this blog and scheduling regular dental appointments for your little one.

While baby teeth will eventually fall out, they shouldn’t fall out prematurely. If this happens, it may be a good idea to schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist.