“A loose tooth! A loose tooth!”, your child screams excitedly as he or she wiggles the baby tooth back and forth. The process of losing a first tooth, the introduction of the tooth fairy, and the feeling that your child is growing up is a wonderful, exciting period for the entire family! Losing one’s baby teeth is a natural process that leaves room for the permanent teeth to come in.

Around the age of 3 years old, your child’s baby teeth will start to come in. In order for your mouth to have enough space for permanent teeth to arrive, the baby teeth will need to fall out. This process typically begins to happen around the age of 6 or 7 years old. Around this age, your permanent will naturally make their way down pushing the baby teeth out, thus causing them to fall out.

Unfortunately, the natural exit of baby teeth isn’t always the case. Children can lose their teeth prematurely for various reasons such as:

Trauma – If your child has ever gotten hit in the mouth, whether it be an accident in sports or another activity, then their teeth are susceptible to damage. Trauma to the mouth can cause a tooth to crack, break, or get knocked out completely.

Tooth Decay – Poor oral hygiene is the number one cause of tooth decay. If the tooth decay becomes severe enough or if it is a cause for infection, the tooth may need to be extracted before its time.

Periodontal Disease – An inflammation and infection of the gums can cause teeth to loosen from the jaw bone, thus causing it to fall out before its time.

Losing teeth prematurely can happen for an array of various reasons and should be investigated further by a professional dentist to assess the damage and implement treatment in a timely manner. To prevent premature loss, be sure to provide your child with proper dental care, including routine check-up appointments recommended twice annually. Additionally, practicing a healthy, thorough oral hygiene routine, such as flossing daily and brushing twice daily, also provides preventative measures for premature tooth loss.

If your child loses their baby teeth prematurely, you will need to seek a dentist for further treatment. If the permanent tooth has yet to erupt, your dentist may recommend implementing an orthodontic spacer, or space maintainer, to support the baby teeth and prevent them from moving. Without the baby tooth there as a placeholder for the permanent teeth, there is a risk that nearby teeth will become loose and shift into the empty space.

Premature tooth loss can occur and be treated for accordingly if caught in a reasonable time frame. If you believe your child has lost their tooth prematurely, make an appointment with your dentist to discuss your options.