Children start losing their baby teeth around age six, which means you’ve only got a few years between the time your child sprouts his or her new teeth and the time they begin to fall out! Baby teeth are essential for children—they enable proper chewing, speech skills, and set the stage for their adult teeth. As a result of this, it’s important to never force your child’s tooth to come out— let it come out naturally if it can! With that in mind, here’s how (and when) to pull your child’s loose tooth.
Encourage Your Child to Wiggle the Tooth
Before you do any work, encourage your child to do it for you. Many children are fascinated by loose teeth and want to be involved in the process of losing them—so let them! Teach your child how to gently wiggle the tooth back and forth with their tongue or a clean finger. Show them how to be gentle and never forceful with the tooth.
Use a Clean Material and Anchor the Tooth
Once the tooth is extremely loose (and maybe even hanging!), it’s time to consider pulling it. Before attempting to pull, choose a clean material such as some gauze or a clean cloth and gently feel the tooth with it. You’ll be able to feel how loose the tooth actually is, and ask your child if he or she feels any pain—pulling the tooth shouldn’t be painful for the child, and if it is, don’t move forward with the pulling!
Pull with a Twisting Motion
If your child’s tooth is extremely loose and ready to be pulled, grasp the tooth firmly while still holding the gauze or cloth around the tooth. You want to pull the tooth firmly and quickly with a twisting motion. Your child’s tooth should come right out with some bleeding. Your child might be frightened at first, but this is a good opportunity to teach him or her how to hold gauze over the area and stop the bleeding—good skills for future use!
When to Pull and Not to Pull
It’s important to remember that baby teeth shouldn’t be taken out prematurely if it can be avoided—best to let them come out on their own! However, some baby teeth won’t come out and will need to be pulled by your dentist. Never force a pulling, and it’s always best to consult your dentist before attempting any at-home pulls with your child!
You can attempt to pull your child’s loose tooth when:
The tooth is very loose.
The tooth is dangling in the socket.
The tooth poses a risk for choking as it’s so loose it could fall out while the child is sleeping.
You should not pull your child’s tooth if:
Your child complains that touching or pulling the tooth hurts.
The tooth is still firmly in the socket.
The tooth is somewhat loose, but not very.
Losing teeth can be a fun time for children, so schedule a visit with your dentist to talk about best practices when it comes to losing teeth. This is an excellent time to teach your children how to take proper care of their smiles and learn about how important their future adult teeth are!