Should You Pull Your Child’s Loose Tooth?

We like to think that we live in enlightened times, don’t we? From a dental perspective, this is certainly true as we look back on the somewhat barbaric exercises of yesteryear. 

However, the parental debate around whether or not to pull a loose tooth remains. 

A few short years ago it was common practice to tie a string around a loose tooth, connecting the other end to a doorknob, and count down ominously as the child waits with uncomfortable anticipation for the slamming of the door. 

If this makes your eyes water a little, you’re not alone. 

So, let’s find out if we should be pulling out our children’s loose teeth, or rather leave them be.

Should I Pull This Loose Tooth Out?

The short answer to this question is usually, No. 

When a baby tooth starts to loosen, it’s an indication that the secondary tooth is making its grand entrance. As the permanent tooth moves up in the jaw it will slowly dislodge the tooth that it is replacing, pushing it up and out. 

When the tooth starts to wiggle, your child’s tongue (and probably their fingers too) will constantly harass it and serve to loosen it further slowly and gently. 

It’s a terribly exciting time for kiddies, and often for parents who see this as a rite of passage into the next stage of childhood. 

Pulling before it’s ready?

In the normal course of events, the tooth will loosen to the point where it is no longer uncomfortable or painful to touch. The tooth is no longer rooted at this point and will simply fall out on its own. 

Up until this point, there is no reason to cause undue pain or stress to the child by pulling the tooth out before its ready. Further pulling out a tooth before the roots have fully dissolved and separated the underlying structure can damage surrounding teeth and has been known to leave parts of the bone in the socket which can cause pain and infection.

Some parents are concerned that the child will accidentally swallow the tooth if it comes out while they are eating. Others ask if a child can choke on a loose tooth that comes out during the night. 

Thankfully, this is not something to worry about. Baby teeth are so tiny that, even if they are swallowed, they are not at all likely to cause choking. The tooth will dissolve in the stomach or pass through the body and be expelled in good time

There may be times, though, when a tooth is loose for another reason. Perhaps it is causing your child some discomfort and needs a little more attention.

Why is the tooth loose?

If a tooth is loose very early in childhood or it’s not due to a permanent tooth coming through, you may find that your little person has fallen or somehow hit their mouth or tooth during play. 

If this is the case, it’s a good idea to pay a quick visit to your dentist to determine the extent of the damage. The body’s innate healing ability will probably kick in and allow the gum to grow back and tighten up the tooth. Whatever the case, your dentist will be able to advise you.

A Word of Caution

It’s worth noting that this article is focused on primary teeth and how to deal with them once they come loose. 

Permanent teeth are a different matter altogether.

If you or your child has a loose permanent tooth, then you’re best off going straight to the dentist. Whether through trauma, decay, or illness, adult teeth can come loose, but should not be pulled out at home. 

Permanent teeth have a significant root structure and attempting to remove a tooth on your own in your bathroom will result in a painful and bloody experience. 

Don’t do it.

In Summary

Our friendly and caring staff here at Shine Dental Clinic are keenly focused on a positive dental experience, especially for children. 

In fact, we offer procedures and treatments specifically designed for anxious patients.

We recommend bringing your little ones for check-ups and cleaning early in their lives so that they are accustomed to the process. If you are concerned about their baby teeth, loose teeth, or anything else, please call in for an appointment and we promise a helpful and stress-free visit. 

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