Very often parents call us (some in a panic) concerned that their child’s permanent teeth are growing in but their baby teeth are not falling out. This occurrence is actually very common and I typically explain the following to parents:
- Baby teeth get loose and come out because the permanent teeth that usually grow in directly underneath them shrink the root of the baby tooth, thus making the baby tooth “rootless” so that it becomes loose enough to fall out.
- If the permanent tooth does not grow in directly underneath the baby tooth, the baby tooth will not get “pushed out”. This occurrence most commonly occurs on the lower front teeth (incisors) between the ages of 5-7 but can also occur in other teeth in the mouth as well. We often see permanent lower incisors growing in behind the lower baby incisors.
For most kids, having a second row of teeth will be temporary as the baby tooth will gradually fall out on their own. As soon as the permanent tooth erupts, parents should encourage their child to wiggle their baby tooth back and forth and also in a twisting motion. Some kids are willing and excited about doing this and others will refuse completely.
If the baby tooth is not showing signs of loosening, I recommend that it be removed by a dentist so that the permanent tooth can grow into its proper position. I will typically make this recommendation when the permanent incisor is at least half way erupted and the baby tooth is not getting more loose over time.
Thus, consider visiting your dentist if it appears that the baby tooth is not on its way out. If you do have to make that visit to the dentist, please know that in these circumstances, removal of a baby tooth is generally a painless and quick procedure that most kids tolerate just fine! Most of our patients go home with a smile excited about getting a visit from the tooth fairy!