What Should You Do If Your Older Child Hasn't Lost Any Primary Teeth Yet?

Health & Medical Blog

Most children start to lose their primary, or baby, teeth around the age of 6. The first to loosen are usually the lower front teeth, followed by the upper front teeth. Kids can often be 10 to 12 years old before they lose their primary molars.

But if your child is well into elementary school and the tooth fairy hasn't made a trip to your house yet, you may be concerned. Why do some kids take longer to lose their baby teeth, and does that mean something is wrong?

The Role of Primary Teeth

It may seem a little odd that humans have two sets of teeth. But the baby teeth play an important role in the child's oral development. They act as placeholders for the larger, permanent teeth. A baby with adult-sized teeth would look out of place; as well, the permanent teeth take time to develop fully during the child's first years of life.

Why Do Some Children Retain Their Primary Teeth?

There are no obvious reasons why some kids lose their teeth on time or even early, and others are a year or more behind their peers. Some of the reason may be genetic. 

Other issues may show up on dental X-rays. For example, sometimes the permanent tooth simply doesn't exist and isn't there to push out the baby tooth. Between 2.5 and 6.9 percent of children are missing at least one permanent tooth. In other cases, the permanent tooth may be in the wrong place and simply isn't aligned properly to help dissolve the root of the primary tooth.

What Can You Do If Your Child Doesn't Have Loose Primary Teeth?

The first step to find out what's going on with your child's mouth is to schedule a dental exam with X-rays. This will give the dentist insight into whether there's a cause for the retained baby teeth or if they look like they're still on track to come out.

Most dentists will not pull baby teeth unless they see some evidence of an issue on the X-ray. Pulling teeth prematurely can cause problems with the alignment of the permanent teeth as they move down. However, if your child has misaligned permanent teeth, it may make sense to pull some of the baby teeth to make room for the new ones to come down. If your child has excessive decay in the primary teeth, the dentist may also decide to remove them so that they don't cause problems for the permanent teeth.

For more information, contact Russell Pollina, DDS or a similar dental professional.


9 March 2016

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