As a child’s permanent teeth erupt, their deciduous or primary teeth begin to fall out. For most children that is around age 5 or 6, although they can appear sooner or later depending on and correlating with when the baby teeth first came in. As these “adult” teeth emerge however, the applied pressure along with biological stimuli cause the child’s baby tooth roots to dissolve, allowing them to loosen and ultimately come out naturally. But what if your child’s tooth comes out due to trauma, or maybe one larger erupting tooth forces out two baby teeth at the same time? What if extraction becomes necessary due to decay? How does this impact the timing and health of incoming permanent teeth?
“Baby teeth act like place holders and guides for the eruption of permanent teeth to come,” said Dr. Yan Razdolsky of Forever Smiles Orthodontics of Buffalo Grove. “Losing them too early can disrupt their natural function. This can result in misalignment or shift of the incoming tooth or result in blocked out or impacted teeth which do not erupt naturally or properly on their own. This can further cause malocclusion and bite issues which may progressively require extensive orthodontic treatment and even surgery down the road,” he added.
According to Dr. Yan, as losing a primary tooth early could result in these types of dental complications, parents should establish a game plan with their pediatric dentist should that happen with their child. First and foremost, if the tooth comes out due to trauma, treat the emergency. From there, schedule a consult with Dr. Razdolsky and the Forever Smiles team.
“At Forever Smiles, we generally begin early evaluation for treatment around the age of 7. But our team is always happy to see a child sooner should their pediatric dentist recommend it or if there is cause for concern. Although treatment may not be necessary, interceptive treatment such as a space maintainer may help children forgo more extensive and expensive treatments down the road.”
Space maintainers are exactly what the name implies. These fantastic, passive treatment devices hold the place left behind by a prematurely lost tooth. This prevents the surrounding teeth from shifting and allows the permanent tooth to erupt safely and naturally into the right position. This can go a long way in helping a child’s teeth and dentition develop more naturally as intended.
“Parents should know, not every prematurely lost tooth is cause for concern. It all depends on the dental maturity of the child and location of the lost tooth,” says Dr. Yan. “While early interceptive orthodontics allows us to treat problems and avoid more serious, invasive, and expensive issues in the future, they may not always be necessary. It is always best to evaluate just so that we may know for sure.”
In the end, for a child who has lost a baby tooth it is a time for gap-toothed grins and visits from the Tooth Fairy. With early evaluation however, Dr. Yan can help parents ensure those grins grow to be beautiful Forever Smiles."