Pulling Out Baby Teeth
Baby teeth fall out between the ages of 6 and 12 years as part of the natural process of teeth development in order to give place to the permanent teeth. In most cases this occurs naturally without the need of human intervention. However some of the first teeth may need a little ‘help’. The information provided in this article about pulling out baby teeth refers to the removal of already naturally loosened teeth, to facilitate the natural process.
When we should pull out a baby tooth?
Pulling out baby teeth is only allowed when the root of the baby tooth has dissolved and it has become loose. Only then the permanent tooth that grows beneath it has developed enough to erupt without problems.
The parents or the child may become impatient with a baby tooth that is very loose for several days or weeks but does not ‘decide’ to fall out. Sometimes a tooth may remain attached only in a small thread of gum tissue. In these cases it is ok to try pulling out the loose baby tooth. However, if it still resists in falling out, do not force it. Wait for a few days and try again.
Pulling out baby teeth forcefully could be a very painful experience for the child. It can also cause the tooth to break with fragments of the root remaining in the jaw and causing an infection. If you prefer to take the safest way, get the child to a pediatric dentist who can check if the tooth is actually ready to be pulled out. If yes, the dentist will take over removing the tooth with safety.
Dentists recommend that a loose baby tooth has to be pulled out only when it blocks the way of the permanent tooth's growth or causes discomfort to the child. Sometimes the dissolved bottom edges of the tooth may become sharp irritating the gums and causing pain during eating. In this case it is preferred to pull it out instead of waiting for it to fall out naturally.
How to pull out a loose tooth (Instructions to help a baby tooth fall out)
First of all either the parent or the dentist must confirm that the tooth is ready to fall out. If the child does not let you to check it yourself, try to persuade the child to move it back and forth so that you can see the degree of the tooth’s mobility. If the tooth is not loose enough, its root may not yet be fully dissolved. In this case try to discourage the kid from moving the tooth aggressively because it could fracture.
There are 2 methods of pulling out a baby tooth:
The 'Passive' method
Let the nature do the job with some ‘help’ from you. The advantage of this method is that you do not have to tell anything to the kid about pulling out a tooth. It is the best approach for kids that feel nervous about having a loose tooth or seem afraid of the idea that it will fall out.
- Offer foods that can help the tooth to fall out on its own. Suitable candidates for this purpose include hard or sticky foods such as popcorn, nuts, apples, peanut butter sandwiches, candies. Generally, foods that require a good amount of chewing can help a loose tooth to dislodge. The only concern is that the tooth could get stuck in the food and swallowed. However, this is nothing to worry about (except of the fact that it will be difficult for the ‘tooth fairy’ to retrieve it).
- Ask the child to use the tongue to check often how much the tooth moves or how far it gets on each side. If the kid feels comfortable with it, a finger can also be used. These continuous movements can encourage the tooth to come out without other external intervention.
The 'Active' method
The right approach (if you want to avoid tears) is to persuade the child to pull the tooth out. After all, the child knows better how resistant or painful the tooth is when it moves. If the kids feel anxious, buy them one of the many children books that explain the process of losing teeth. If the child continues not to feel comfortable about it, the parent has to take action. Regardless of who performs it, the actions are the following:
- Wash hands carefully. Dry the hands and the loose tooth with a paper towel to improve the grip on it.
- Make a final check to see how attached the tooth is in its socket. If the tooth appears to be hanging by a thread, it is okay to remove it. Pulling a tooth that is strongly attached can be painful and result in bleeding or fracture.
- Grasp the loose tooth firmly with a piece of soft tissue or cotton gauze.
- Gently rock the loose tooth back in forth for a few minutes to detach it from the gums. Increase gradually the range of motion on the tooth until it loosens further.
- Finally give it a gentle, but quick, twist and pull. The tooth should come out easily.
- Do not apply force. Stop, if you feel unexpected resistance or if it is too painful for the child.
- If there is some bleeding, give the child to hold a cotton gauze against the gums until it stops. You can also wrap a piece of ice cube inside it, to ease discomfort and prevent any swelling.
The 'Dentist' method
If both, you and your child, feel uncomfortable with the process of pulling out a loose baby tooth, you can always visit a pediatric dentist. After all, what is safer than seeking the help of an expert?