Parents: Here's Everything You Should Know About Dealing With Your Kids' Loose Teeth

Children usually start losing their baby teeth when they're between the ages of five and six years old. Sometimes these teeth fall out easily while a child is eating or brushing their teeth, but sometimes they're more stubborn, remaining attached to the gum line by a tiny piece of tissue for days on end. Some parents think baby teeth should be left alone until they fall out on their own, while others still practice the old string and doorknob trick. What's the right course of action when your kid has a stubborn loose tooth? Read on to find out.

Keep Your Child's Hands Clean

When a tooth is pulled before it's ready to fall out, it can leave a tear in the gum tissue which makes your child vulnerable to infections. It's best to let the tooth fall out naturally, but chances are good that your child isn't going to allow that to happen. The feel of a tooth on the verge of falling out can be aggravating, and most children will wiggle a loose tooth back and forth with their tongue or fingers until it finally pops out. Make sure your child's efforts don't threaten their health by keeping their hands clean at all times when they have a loose tooth. 

When It's Okay To Step In And Help

If your child's loose tooth is consuming their entire attention span -- if they can't focus on anything else but trying to get the tooth out of their mouth and they're having a hard time eating or brushing their teeth -- then it may be time to give them a hand. The sooner the tooth is out, the sooner the underlying gum tissue can heal and the sooner the risk of infection goes away.

Easing The Pain

If your child has been yanking on their loose tooth for several days, the area around that tooth is probably pretty sore and it's going to hurt a bit when you free the tooth. To combat this discomfort, you have a couple of options. You can give your child their recommended dose of children's pain medicine (consult with their pediatrician first and allow the medicine a few minutes to take effect before attempting to pull the tooth), or you can numb the area of the mouth that the tooth is in with a numbing agent.

You can purchase mouth-numbing agents over-the-counter in spray, cream, gel, and liquid form. Look for the product that contains the least amount of benzocaine and follow the directions on the package exactly. 

Push, Don't Pull

When it's time to pull the loose tooth, use a clean, dry piece of gauze to cover your finger, and wiggle the tooth around until you can determine what side of the tooth is still attached to the gum line. You'll want to push the tooth from this side and in the opposite direction. For example, if the front side of the tooth is still attached to the gum tissue, you'll want to gently push the tooth from front to back. If the tooth is stuck to the gum line by a thread of tissue on its left side, you'll want to push the tooth gently from left to right. If the tooth is ready to come out, it should pop out easily. If it doesn't easily dislodge from the gum line, it's simply not ready to come out and you should wait a few days before again trying to remove it. 

Examine Your Child's Gum Line For Tooth Fragments

If you've successfully pulled your child's loose tooth, it's time to have a look at the gum tissue it was dislodged from. You need to make sure no tooth fragments have been left behind in your child's mouth. If you see a bit of tooth remaining, do not attempt to remove it. Instead, contact your dentist right away. Tooth fragments left behind in your child's gum line can delay the healing process. The dentist may be able to flush the fragment out, but if not, most fragments will work their way out on their own over time. However, your child's mouth should be monitored to make sure it's healing properly while you wait for the fragment to work its way out.

While it's best to allow your child's baby teeth to fall out on their own, sometimes it isn't an option. If your kid has a loose tooth, keep their hands clean to minimize the risk of infection, and don't be scared to help them remove the tooth by following the guidelines above.  If you are interested in learning more about children's teeth, click here for more info.