By: Dr. Jones
It's an exciting time in kids lives when they start to get visits from the tooth fairy and they transition from baby teeth to grown up teeth! However, sometimes, those baby teeth don't cooperate and "fall out" as easily as we would like them to. So, you can do the do the old trick where you tie a string to the tooth and a door knob and slam the door shut....OR....you can have Dr. Jones gently wiggle out the baby tooth so the new adult tooth can come in properly. If baby teeth are stubborn and won't come out on their own, they can cause the adult teeth to erupt into the wrong place or be uncomfortable for the child. Often, we have orthodontists request that we systematically help wiggle out baby teeth so that we can help guide the development and proper bite as the child is entering into braces. And, we have quite a few kids and parents who are a little squeamish and don't love the idea of wiggling out teeth on their own...so we are happy to help in those cases too :)
The baby teeth serve a very important function in development besides allowing kids to eat and have the most adorable smiles ever. As the baby teeth get wiggly, that means that there is a very amazing and complicated process going on behind the scenes in which the adult tooth forms below it and sends a signal to start "dissolving" the roots of the baby tooth. As the roots dissolve, the baby tooth gets wiggly and it helps guide the adult tooth behind it to come in exactly where it is supposed to. If a baby tooth is lost too early, or won't come out on its own, it can disrupt the adult tooth's eruption pattern and cause problems. We monitor children's baby teeth and adult tooth development very closely to make sure that everything is on track and the timing of everything is working.
A very common scenario is for the lower front adult teeth to start coming in behind the baby teeth under the child's tongue. The baby teeth are not wiggling out on their own, so the adult teeth just push on through behind them, making two rows of teeth down front. Sometimes we have to wiggle out those baby teeth so that the adult teeth can move forward into the proper position and don't cause problems with the alignment and bite. This video is my son, at 5 years old, having his first tooth wiggled out because this happened to him. As the adult teeth started to erupt in a second row behind his two front baby teeth, they became uncomfortable to bite and talk and really were just a nuisance to him. Luckily for Beck...Mom is a dentist and he came in after work one afternoon to wiggle those stubborn baby teeth out. He was so proud of himself and so were we, as you can see in this video!
If you are wondering if your child's baby teeth are in the way or aren't wiggling at the proper time, we would love to do an exam and give you information on the patterns and ages that baby teeth should be lost and adult teeth should come in. If we decide that it's helpful to help wiggle them out, or if an orthodontist requests that we wiggle them out....we will walk you through the entire process and make sure that we do it as gently as possible. We have very kid friendly words and terms to help the child understand what we are doing and make them feel safe and confident. When that tooth comes out, they are always SO excited to see it and they can't wait to put it in their little treasure box and put it under their pillow for a visit from the tooth fairy!
We love to help little smiles develop and grow into beautiful and healthy "grown up" smiles, and wiggling out stubborn baby teeth at the dentist office is sometimes part of the process!
My first dental emergency
I was so excited when the red Strawberry Shortcake bike that was passed down from my older sisters was all mine! I was four or five years old and learning how to ride a bike. It still had training wheels, but I felt like such a big girl!
One summer day my mom decided to take us on a bike ride around the neighborhood. She strapped our little brother in the seat behind her, my older two sisters hopped on their bikes, and I jumped on the red Strawberry Shortcake bike. We made our way around the neighborhood. This was my first official bike ride beyond our driveway and sidewalk in front of our house!
Our house was at the bottom of a hill. I remember that we were all stopped at the top of the hill; the final homestretch. I was feeling a little nervous. My older sisters went first and seemed to fly down the hill and I wanted to be just like them. I'm sure my mom said something about using the brakes as I started off, but I was too excited to listen and wanted to feel the wind in my hair! I get halfway down the hill and I see it. One of the cement segments of the sidewalk was popped up about 2 inches higher. I panicked! I slammed on the brakes and remember the handlebars shaking under my hands and I hit the bump. I was told I flew over the handlebars and landed on my face.
The next thing I remember is laying on our kitchen counter with a washcloth in my mouth. My mom was making phone calls to the dentist and family members to watch my siblings while she took me to an emergency appointment.
I can remember the darkish room, and the sailboat picture on the wall opposite of the chair. I remember the heavy lead apron on me. I also remember a sense of being safe. The dentist was so calm and nice. Even while extracting my two upper front teeth!
The lower two teeth front teeth came out in my peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the following days. My mom had to search through the Wonder Bread and Jif Peanut butter mush (sorry, gross...I know!). It felt like several years before my permanent teeth came in. "All I want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth" was my theme song that year!
I tell you this story because summer is a time where we have a higher incident of child emergency calls and it's important to know that we are here for you! Dr. Jones has already seen a boy who had a tooth through his lip due to a trampoline accident, a girl who hit her tooth and lip on the side of a pool, a boy who took a baseball to the tooth and fractured it, and several other little summer mishaps. When parents call Dr. Jones in the midst of these scary summer accidents, her primary goal is to give the parents confidence that we will care for their child and everything will be okay, just the way I felt when I visited my dentist after my bike accident. Dr. Jones' emergency contact number is on our answering machine, so if you are currently a patient here or you are with friends or family that need emergency dental care, don't hesitate to call Dr. Jones...even on evenings and weekends. On several occasions, Dr. Jones has the parents text photos to her so she can diagnose or offer advice right away...even before getting to the office. We know that summer fun can sometimes lead to summer emergencies, so know that your dentist is only a call (or text) away!
My oldest son is turning four this summer. We just bought him is first bike which he has been wishing for daily for the last few months. The first thing that we will teach him? How to use the breaks!
Happy Independence Day!
I think that Dr. Jones and most dentists agree that this is pretty accurate! However, Dr. Jones really does like what she does, so imagine that last picture with a smiling dentist!
The Kansas City area looks like we will have wonderful weather. We suspect there will be a lot of outside events. In addition to your normal sunscreen routine, please do not forget to Protect Your Pucker! Use a lip balm with the highest SPF you can find and remember to re-apply frequently.
Have a wonderful and SAFE Independence Day!
Ali Jones, D.D.S. - Dentist