We all have them—photos our parents took of us when we were little, showing a missing front tooth. And how could your parents not take such a photo? Grinning, toothless kids are priceless, and the opportunity to capture that special coming-of-age moment only happens once during their lifetime. Most kids lose those first teeth between the ages of six to eight, making those photo opportunities prime for the picking. But what happens when your child loses a tooth, or more than one tooth earlier than that? Is it a cause for concern? Read on to discover what you should know about premature baby tooth loss and how pediatric dental care can help.
My child is already losing their teeth. Do they need pediatric dental care?
First and foremost, if your child loses their first tooth before the age of six, don’t be alarmed. Premature tooth loss happens, and with the right pediatric dental care, you can rest assured your child will still grow up to have a beautiful smile. Though, parents should be aware of the risks and concerns related to premature baby tooth loss.
Baby teeth rarely fall out on their own. This means that there is usually some sort of cause such as dental trauma (a blow to the face or related injury causing a knocked-out baby tooth) or tooth decay. And, losing a baby tooth early can cause dental complications later if it is not adequately addressed by your child’s pediatric dentist or orthodontist. In many cases, interceptive orthodontic treatment is recommended to help protect your child’s oral health and smile.
What happens when a baby tooth comes out too soon?
Like we said earlier, baby teeth usually fall out due to dental trauma or tooth decay. But when those teeth come out before they should, it can cause some problems inside your child’s mouth. More specifically, premature tooth loss can cause the following concerns.
- Adjacent teeth begin to shift into the open spaces left behind by the missing tooth.
- Your child’s teeth may become crowded together in the open space, preventing a permanent tooth from having enough space to come in properly.
- Due to crowding, permanent teeth can become blocked from coming through as they remain stuck in the jawbone with no space to erupt.
- Permanent teeth can become damaged under the gumline due to the impact of the other teeth that have shifted out of place and pushed against them.
- When your child has a missing tooth for an extended period of time, the remaining teeth are placed under more stress than they should be, which can cause irregular wear patterns on remaining baby teeth and on new adjacent permanent teeth.
How can you prevent your child from premature baby tooth loss?
We know that parents want what is best for their child. And when it comes to your child’s oral health and beautiful smile, there’s no doubt you will want to pull out the stops. So, here are three things you can do to prevent your child from losing their baby teeth prematurely and developing orthodontic problems down the road.
1. Teach your child how to care for their teeth at home.
Oral care starts when your child is first born. Rub your newborn’s gums with a soft cloth or gauze daily to remove bacteria that can be harmful to their gums and future teeth. When your child’s first tooth erupts, start brushing with baby-safe fluoride toothpaste and continue that practice until your child can brush their teeth on their own (around age three or four with parental supervision). Brushing teeth twice a day removes plaque, which can lead to tooth decay.
In addition to brushing, start flossing your child’s teeth as soon as they have two teeth that touch. And finally, teach your child how to use a kid-safe mouthwash once they are old enough to swish and spit.
2. Take your child to the dentist around the time of their first birthday.
Many new parents think that kids don’t need to visit the dentist until they are school-aged. But the truth is that kids should see the dentist for the first time shortly after their first tooth comes in or around their first birthday, whichever comes first. Developing a routine of taking your child to the dentist not only helps to prevent tooth decay, but it also helps your child to develop a positive experience at the dentist’s office.
3. Stick to tooth-friendly foods whenever possible.
Now, we all know it is important to indulge once in a while, and that certainly holds true for kids. So, don’t think you have to keep your child from enjoying the sweet delights of their childhood years. That said, whenever possible, stick to tooth-friendly foods and snacks. And remember that there are healthy treats you can pack in your kids’ lunch box too. Crunchy fruits and vegetables, milk, yogurt, and cheese, and water are all excellent choices.
Space maintainers can help if your child has lost a tooth prematurely.
If your child has lost a baby tooth before its intended time, there are things you can do to help your child avoid orthodontic issues in the future. The first step is to request an appointment with your child’s pediatric dentist in Waldorf of Prince Frederick, MD. Together, you, your child, and their dentist can discuss the best options to protect your child’s mouth for the future.
In many cases, your child’s dentist will recommend a space maintainer. Just like they sound, space maintainers (or spacers) are dental appliances used for children who have lost some baby teeth and their permanent teeth may not come in for a while. Space maintainers basically hold the space for permanent teeth to grow in later. These devices also prevent remaining adjacent baby teeth from moving into the open space, which helps avoid crowding or impacted teeth.
Request an appointment with your kids’ dentist today if they have experienced premature baby tooth loss.
We can’t emphasize this enough – if your child has lost a tooth too soon, don’t hesitate to request an appointment with their dentist. Think of your child’s dentist as your partner in preventing premature tooth loss and protecting their oral health for the long haul. So, what are you waiting for? Request an appointment for your child at one of our two convenient locations today.