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Calling all Tooth Fairies: what to do when your child's tooth is loose


Every child loves the tooth fairy. But as a parent, it can be tough to know the proper way to help your child when his or her primary tooth is ready to come out.

First, it helps to understand what’s happening in your child’s mouth. Children have 20 primary teeth, which are often referred to as “baby teeth.” At about age 6, permanent teeth begin to push through the gums, and primary teeth become loose and fall out. By about age 13, your child will have most of his or her permanent teeth.

As the permanent teeth descend, the roots of the baby teeth are gradually dissolved, a process called resorption. So there’s only a tiny amount of tissue holding them in place. As you may have noticed, children like to wiggle a loose tooth with their fingers or tongue. This may be all it takes to make the tooth fall out.

If a baby tooth is only slightly loose, you should leave it alone until more of the root dissolves. If a tooth is very loose but won’t come out, you can help your child pull it out. Using a tissue or a piece of gauze, grasp the tooth firmly. As you pull, give it a quick twist.

Sometimes small fragments of root that weren’t completely dissolved break off and remain in the tissue. These fragments usually work their way out over time. If the remaining piece causes swelling, redness, or pain, contact your dentist.

Finally, if you or your child aren’t able to remove the loose tooth, call your child’s dentist. The dentist may suggest coming in so it can be extracted.



“Tooth Eruption: The Primary Teeth.” American Dental Association, January 2006. Accessed 2013.

“When Children Begin To Lose Their Baby Teeth.” American Academy of Pediatrics. Accessed 2013.

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