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Saying Good-bye to Baby Teeth

By Jennifer Woodbury Duval
From Reno Moms Blog

During spring break, my youngest son lost his very first tooth. Saying good-bye to his first baby tooth left him nervous and excited at the same time.

His experience made me think about the transition from baby to adult teeth. Are baby teeth really that important? Do I need to take special care when he has a loose tooth? Should I have his pediatric dentist seal his adult teeth?

Dr. Melissa McCool from The Smile Shop weighs in on these questions and more in today’s post.

Are baby teeth really that important?
Baby teeth are very important. Not only are they important in guidance and space maintenance for the permanent dentition, but they also help us function to eat our food and form our speech.  Dental decay is one of the most prevalent childhood diseases, but with proper hygiene and diet and regular dental checkups, we can keep it in control as well as work on preventative methods.  Having a healthy mouth is just one step towards having a healthy body and mind.

When will my child lose his/her baby teeth?
Children typically go through two phases of tooth loss. The first phase usually begins around age 6 and takes about two years.  Eight teeth are lost in this phase.  The second phase typically starts around age 10 and also lasts approximately two years.  Twelve teeth are lost in this phase.

What if my child is late in losing his/her teeth?
Not every child will lose teeth at the same time. Plenty of children exfoliate their baby teeth earlier or later than the average ages stated above.  If your child is extremely early or late, it is a good idea to see your pediatric dentist to make sure there are no underlying causes.

My child is terrified to lose a tooth. What can I do to help ease his/her mind?  Do I need to take special care when his/her tooth is loose?
It is quite normal for kids to be nervous about losing their teeth.  It can be uncomfortable, difficult to eat with a wobbly tooth and sore as the new permanent tooth is shifting into position.  Encourage your child to wiggle their teeth and to still keep them clean with brushing and flossing even if they are to fall out soon.  These practices can aid in making the process more comfortable. While scary, it is also very exciting – they are finally getting their grown up teeth!  Don’t forget to remind your child to do plenty of hand washing during the wiggling phase.

There are so many toothpastes to choose from; What type of toothpaste should I use for my child’s adult teeth?
The average adult and children’s toothpastes will contain the same amount of fluoride to protect teeth from cavities and that is what is most important.  Adult toothpastes vary from sensitive to tartar control to whitening, and it is important to talk to your child’s pediatric dentist about which one suits their individual needs. You want to be careful with whitening toothpastes which can have a high amount of abrasives, which can also wear away healthy enamel.

I’ve heard sealants protect teeth and act as barriers to cavity-prone areas. Should I have my child’s adult teeth sealed?
Sealants are a wonderful tool in cavity prevention.  Our adult teeth have deep grooves and fissures on the biting surfaces which are great hiding places for microscopic bacteria.  Even with the best brushing, these areas can be missed or be difficult to keep clean.  Sealants aid in blocking bacteria from these deep grooves and fissures and lowering the risk of getting a cavity.  Sealants have to be checked at dental visits and occasionally replaced, so it is important to have regular follow-up with your child’s dentist to maintain them.

Anything else I should know or think about as we say good-bye to my child’s baby teeth?
Losing baby teeth is an exciting time in your child’s life.  Most kids look forward to losing their first tooth and can’t wait for it to begin.  Make it fun.  We all know and love the Tooth Fairy, but you can also put your own family’s special spin on these traditions and make your own memories.