When your child comes running up to you with a baby tooth that’s ready to fall out, your first instinct may be to reach for the tooth, wiggle it, and maybe help loosen it a bit. But is that the right call? How do you know if it’s really time for the tooth to be removed? Should you just wait for it to fall out on its own? Read on for advice on when it’s a good idea to help your child pull out a loose tooth (absolutely no string and door-slamming required!) and when you should consider leaving it be.
To Pull or Not to Pull a Loose Tooth
Every child is different — and that even applies to how he or she feels about her teeth. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), there are typically two types of kids — those who want you to help them pull out a loose tooth and those who would rather you stay far away. (Note: children typically start to lose their baby teeth around age 6).
If your child falls into the former group and would like a helping hand, the ADA recommends trying a method that will allow you to pull the tooth safely: take a tissue, put it over the tooth, and gently squeeze it. This usually helps the tooth come out without a hitch.
If your child tells you they definitely don’t want you near their teeth, it’s best to simply let them do the tooth-pulling work themselves. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, many children enjoy wiggling their tooth loose with their tongues or fingers, likely because if they do, a Tooth Fairy visit will be around the corner.
What to Do Once a Loose Tooth Is Out
Once your child is holding their previously loose tooth in their hand, the ADA says that you’ll want to let them know that losing a tooth is a natural part of growing up and a developmental milestone for them. (As in, it’s a big deal!)
In fact, research published in the International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry in 2018 found that for most children, losing the first primary tooth is associated with positive emotions like joy and pride. Only around 22 percent of children reportedly experienced negative emotions such as fear or being scared. So be sure to celebrate the loss of a baby tooth — and arrange for the Tooth Fairy to pay a visit!
Taking Care of All Those Teeth
As far as the rest of your child’s teeth go, you need to make sure that your little one is brushing their pearly whites for two minutes, two times a day (preferably with a fluoride toothpaste like Aquafresh Bubble Mint or as recommended by the dentist), and that your child is particularly gentle in the area where the tooth was lost.
1 Make sure to talk with your dentist about the appropriate time to start your child on a fluoride toothpaste