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!
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Ali Jones, D.D.S. - Dentist