Losing teeth is both exciting and scary. Kids are thrilled to be taking a step toward growing up but can be nervous about the process. Children may be eagerly waiting for a tooth to fall out while still feeling anxiety about whether or not they’ll swallow their teeth while they’re eating or sleeping or if losing a tooth will be painful. As a parent, there are number of steps that you can take to ease kids’ anxiety and minimize the pain that may occur when you pull a tooth that is ready to come out.
Most kids start to lose their baby teeth around age six. Typically the teeth in the front of the mouth are the first to fall out. The baby teeth roots become reabsorbed as the adult teeth start to grow, which leaves just a little bit of connective tissue holding them in place. Consequently, the baby teeth start to become loose.
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Most kids help their teeth fall out painlessly by pressing their tongues against the loose teeth or rocking the teeth back and forth with their fingers. Encourage your child to use these tactics to work loose teeth on their own, which most kids are happy to do.
In some instances, a tooth will linger for a few weeks, which can be frustrating or even a hassle, as it can make it difficult for a child to eat or brush his teeth. You must decide if the tooth is ready to fall out. If it’s still firmly rooted, leave it in place, as pulling it can be quite painful. If it’s hanging by a thread, you may be able to help your child remove it.
While many kids are afraid to pull their own teeth, ultimately it’s better for them to do it themselves. A child knows better than anyone else how loose the tooth is and whether or not it’s painful to pull it. Urge your child to pull the tooth himself before you attempt to do so to keep the pain level to a minimum.
If a child isn’t able to pull his own tooth, don’t be afraid to offer assistance. Start by rubbing some oral analgesic on the region surrounding the tooth. Oral analgesics are readily available at any drug store and don’t require a prescription. Give the analgesic a few minutes to numb the area. You can also opt to give your child a dose of pain medication, particularly if he is feeling anxious about the process.
Take some gauze or a clean tissue, and wiggle the tooth back and forth to determine if it’s ready to come out. A tooth that is ready will be able to move around freely. If it offers little resistance, pull gently. If you have to yank hard, leave the tooth in place and try again in a few days.
Once you’ve pulled the tooth, it’s not uncommon for there to be a little blood in the original tooth spot. Apply pressure to the region with a clean gauze pad to help the bleeding stop more quickly. Focus on how exciting it is that your child lost his tooth and that the tooth fairy will be paying a visit in the near future to distract him from the pain and blood.
After the bleeding has stopped, check the gums for baby tooth fragments. Most of the time, there won’t be any fragments. You may even be able to see the adult tooth poking through the gums. If there are tooth fragments left behind, don’t attempt to remove them on your own. Instead, make an appointment with the dentist. Tooth fragments may become embedded in the gums, which can be painful and lead to further dental problems.
Pulling a tooth may cause a small tear in the gum. Any time there is an opening in the body, there is risk of infection. Although the chance of infection is very low, keep an eye on your child over the next week following a tooth pull. If your child complains of pain or there is redness in the gum area, take him to see the dentist.
If you ever have any questions about the way that your child is losing his teeth or how his adult teeth are coming in, consult with your dentist. They will be able to check your child’s teeth and offer a professional assessment of any potential issues.