Kids & Parenting

How to pull a child's tooth

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Kids can wiggle, twist or pull out a tooth all by themselves
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Losing a tooth: an exciting rite of passage for children and parents

'Losing a tooth is an exciting rite of passage for children, and parents.

Most children lose their first tooth between the ages of 5 and 7 years old, as the roots of baby teeth begin to dissolve to make way for permanent teeth. On average, children will lose between 18-25 baby teeth, the first of which are usually the front bottom or top teeth. The last teeth to go are usually the cuspid or second molars, typically lost around the age of twelve.
Loosing baby teeth is a perfectly natural process, however many parents may become alarmed or concerned if a childís tooth takes too long to fall out, or if a child complains that it is painful to chew or bite. If you are a parent wondering how to pull a childís tooth, the best answer is Ö donít!

Dentists recommend that parents should encourage a child to wiggle, twist or pull out a tooth all by themselves. Only a child is fully aware of how well attached a tooth is, or of how much discomfort he or she can handle. In fact, dentists advise that pulling out a tooth before it is ready to go, can actually damage the gums as well as the new teeth underneath. 

In the old days, a common practice, for adults concerned about how to pull a childís tooth, was to tie one end of a string around the loose tooth, the other around a doorknob, and then slam the door. Today, dentists and doctors warn that yanking out baby teeth is a dangerous practice.  If you force a tooth, you risk breaking the roots or the tooth, which can lead to infection.

Parents who grow especially concerned about how to pull a childís tooth that is particularly obstinate, can find peace of mind in these words of wisdom: 

First, encourage your child to keep wiggling the tooth on their own. Instruct your child to regularly wash his or her hands with antibacterial soap if he is constantly using his fingers to poke or wiggle the tooth. Encourage your child to chew sugar free gum to help loosen the tooth. Encourage your child to keep brushing his or her teeth regularly. If the tooth is hanging on by a "thread," or when you are certain there is very little root left, suggest that your child bite into an apple. Consult a dentist only if you suspect a serious problem.

Yes, teeth tend to fall out on their own, often becoming lodged in food, or occasionally, getting swallowed. Donít be alarmed if your child swallows a tooth!  This is harmless, and will only result in disappointment for the tooth fairy.

When a baby tooth falls out naturally, there should be very little bleeding.  If a loose tooth accidentally gets knocked out by force, there may be some bleeding, and it may be worth consulting a dentist.  If your child experiences bleeding gums, fold a damp piece of gauze to hold with consistent pressure against the gums until the bleeding stops.

Some children complain that it is difficult or painful to chew or bite into foods either immediately before or after they lose a tooth.  In this situation, provide a child with plenty of healthy options for soft or pureed foods, such as a meal consisting of soup, Jell-o, and apple sauce.

Without a doubt, the most exciting aspect of losing tooth is the subsequent visit from the tooth fairy.  Encourage your child to put his or her tooth under the pillow at night so that the tooth fairy may collect it and leave a reward.  Young children will also find joy and excitement in reading bedtime stories about the tooth fairy, which can be found in many bookstores or libraries. 

Imaginative parents may enjoy the magical, whimsical experience of sharing make believe stories about the tooth fairy, or encouraging their children to engage in creative play such as drawing pictures or writing cards to leave under their pillow for the tooth fairy. Today, many retailers offer other tooth treasures and gifts such as tooth holder pillows, tooth fairy themed pajamas, or even very official looking tooth fairy certificates.

Childhood doesnít last forever, and neither do baby teeth. Parents concerned about how to pull a childís tooth are best to leave the natural process to its own time frame, rather than try to rush the process by intervening. The best advice is to teach a child to properly care for his or her own teeth with regular dentist visits and brushing and flossing. Then, take the time to celebrate the milestone with exceptional accessories when your child looses a tooth.


Baby Center: Should I Pull a Very Loose Tooth? Removing a Child's Loose Tooth

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