Baby teeth erupt and stick around for several years before they eventually fall out and are replaced with permanent teeth. This can begin happening around 5 to 6 years of age, though it is possible to first lose a baby tooth as early as 4 years old or as late as 7 years old.
So, what happens if baby teeth start falling out too early? Will this impact your child’s oral health?
Without a permanent tooth ready to erupt, the loss of a baby tooth can lead to potential dental and orthodontic issues. However, staying on top of your child’s dental care means having access to procedures and treatments that may minimize the impact.
Why Do Baby Teeth Fall Out Too Early?
There are several different reasons why a baby tooth may fall out before it is supposed to. A few of the most common are:
Dental trauma or accidents. Whether running through the house or playing a sport, kids play hard. And that means dental trauma can easily happen. One misstep and a fall can lead to a busted tooth or a missed catch of a baseball can knock a tooth right out.
Certain medical conditions. If your child has been diagnosed with certain medical conditions, such as bone disease or childhood cancer, they have an increased chance of losing their baby teeth early.
Periodontal disease. If oral hygiene is not performed, plaque can build up on teeth and lead to gum disease. This is an infection that, if left untreated, can cause the teeth to become loose and fall out. It is rare for this disease to reach this stage in young kids, but possible nonetheless.
Oral Health Issues With Early Baby Tooth Loss
If your child loses a tooth too early, oral health issues can arise. And, unfortunately, these issues can lead to even bigger oral health concerns if not addressed by a dentist or orthodontist.
- Teeth begin to shift. Teeth rely on the teeth around them for support. When one is missing and not replaced, the lack of support can allow the teeth to shift. Not only will this lead to gaps, misaligned bites, and overcrowding, but it can also interfere with other baby teeth that are ready to come out.
- Overcrowding. As teeth shift and become bunched up and overcrowded together, they can lead to tooth decay and even prevent new teeth from erupting properly.
- Dangers to permanent teeth. If a permanent tooth tries to erupt after the teeth have moved, it can become damaged from pushing against other baby teeth.
Treatment Options for Lost Baby Teeth
If your child has lost a baby tooth too early, it is important to have an evaluation with the pediatric dentist. This will allow the situation to be addressed and evaluated before more damage is done.
With the help of X-rays, the dentist is able to see where the permanent teeth are and whether or not one is ready to erupt where the tooth fell out. If so, great - nothing will need to be done. If not, your dentist may recommend that a space maintainer be used to keep the surrounding teeth from shifting.
A space maintainer may be permanently attached or removable, depending on the situation. It will keep the space between the two teeth open so that it can easily allow the permanent tooth to come in when it is time.
Has Your Child Lost a Tooth Early?
If your child has lost a baby tooth too early, then it is time to seek treatment from Orange County Pediatric Dentistry. Our team of gentle professionals works with kids of all ages to set a solid foundation for a lifetime of oral health.