When parents visit Timpanogos Pediatric Dentistry, they’ll undoubtedly have questions about the “timeline” surrounding their child’s baby (primary) teeth. When should they fall out? Why are they not? What’s normal?
As with any child learning how to stand, walk, talk, or read, there are milestones we expect our children to meet at a certain age. The same can be said for baby teeth. However, although we do have a certain expectancy when it comes to the loss of primary teeth, not every child—or even teen—will lose them exactly when we’d expect. So here’s what you should know if your pre-teen or teenager still has a few baby teeth left.
What’s the “Normal” Timeline?
Although every child is different, most children will begin to lose their primary teeth at the age of six and will have lost all of those baby teeth at around twelve. The science behind the loss of baby teeth is fascinating. When osteoclasts, a type of bone cell, begin to attack the primary teeth, the roots of those teeth are destroyed. This allows the permanent tooth to develop, and the roots of the primary teeth are reabsorbed. Of course, this seems like a simple process for the body, but the timeline of the process can happen differently from one child to the next, which means you may have one child that loses all of their baby teeth within six years and another within nine.
Why Aren’t They Falling Out?
We wish we had the perfect answer for why your teen’s baby teeth may not fall out according to plan, but there’s usually no one reason why it’s not happening. Stubborn baby teeth could be due to your child’s environment, genetics, obstructions, misalignment, and even trauma. Disorders like Endocrine or conditions like Dental Ankylosis can also play a factor. However, routine check-ups with your dentistry team and doctor can help us rule out anything major.
The honest answer is: sometimes we will never know precisely why; we can only plan for what we know will happen with time. However, by keeping a vigilant eye on your child’s oral health, we can ensure that permanent teeth come in as safely and comfortably as possible.
What is a Delayed Eruption Pattern?
Many parents think that their child has simply stopped losing their baby teeth, and in some ways, they’re right! However, that’s normal. We’ve talked before in this blog about [link to blog post] the standard timeline for baby teeth and permanent teeth coming in, but there is an interesting time in a child’s life when everything seems to take a pause. From around the ages of eight to ten, we see many kids simply stop losing their baby teeth. This two-year-long break isn’t a cause for concern unless:
- Teeth are overcrowded. Although baby teeth are there to keep a space for permanent teeth, sometimes a crowded mouth can make proper eruption difficult.
- Extra teeth. We sometimes think of overcrowding as having extra teeth, but these can be two different concerns. First, if the eruption is blocked, a simple x-ray will tell us if any extra teeth are causing an issue.
- Missing permanent teeth. Some congenital conditions may cause permanent teeth never to grow at all. However, sometimes baby teeth can be retained in the mouth until an alternative option is discussed with your orthodontist.
When Should You Be Concerned?
As parents, we understand that many can’t help but be concerned when their teen still has some baby teeth left in their mouth. As we’ve said above, it’s common for children around nine to twelve years old to have lost their baby teeth. Should you be alarmed if your child hasn’t? Not usually. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay close attention. It may be necessary for dental intervention to take place. If a baby tooth is proving difficult to remove or even making it nearly impossible for a permanent tooth to erupt fully, it’s time to visit the dentist.