On topic with Dr. Dill: 

Your guide to loose baby teeth

And just like that, your little one is starting to wiggle his or her first loose tooth. But what happens next? Should you simply let nature take its course and wait until the tooth falls out on its own? Should you help the tooth along with a quick squeeze? What should you do if your child has ongoing pain? We’ll guide you through it. 

When should my child’s baby teeth begin to fall out?

Between the ages of 5 and 7, it’s normal for your child’s baby teeth to begin to loosen and wiggle. These wiggly teeth should usually have no problem falling out on their own with minimal help.

Which teeth will fall out first?

Typically, teeth fall out in the same order in which they appear. The first teeth to fall out are often the two front bottom and two front top teeth. The natural order will then be the two teeth on either side of the top teeth and bottom teeth, and so on.

All children are different, so their teeth may not all follow the exact same order. By the age of 12, all your child’s baby teeth will have usually fallen out. 

When should I help remove a loose baby tooth?

While it might be tempting to pull, twist or wiggle a loose baby tooth, you should generally let it fall out naturally.

If your child has a loose baby tooth that becomes bothersome during everyday tasks such as eating, drinking or talking, you can help it make its way out — gently! To free the loose tooth, lightly squeeze or quickly twist it with a tissue.

Avoid pulling a baby tooth too early. If you have to work hard to wiggle the tooth, it’s not quite ready. And if the permanent tooth underneath isn’t ready, a neighboring permanent tooth that has already grown in could shift into the empty space, potentially causing that tooth to become crooked.

What if there's pain or bleeding?

You can moisten a piece of gauze and have your child lightly bite down on it to reduce the bleeding. If consistent bleeding persists after two hours, it’s time to call the dentist.

For the first full day after a tooth falls out, stick to soft foods and avoid hot foods until the area has had some time to heal. Your child should try to avoid directly brushing the area with a toothbrush for around two days and instead rinse gently with salt water. 

Having a tooth fall out might be a frightening experience for some children. Introducing them to the tradition of the Tooth Fairy can help ease any fears they have about losing their baby teeth and create lasting memories. And who doesn’t like to get a bit of loot in exchange for their tooth?

Be sure to check out our fun Tooth Fairy resources, including a full-color poster of baby tooth traditions around the world (did you know there’s also a Tooth Mouse?), and a lost-tooth certificate and letter from the Tooth Fairy herself.

Meet Joseph Dill, DDS, Delta Dental’s Chief Dental Officer. With more than 30 years of experience in the dental field, including eight in private and public health practice and 20 in dental insurance, Dr. Dill provides expert insights and helpful advice to keep you smiling bright.