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Tuesday, 2 December 2008

When do children start to lose teeth

My daughter is 6 years old, and I noticed that one of her lower teeth is loose. At what age do children start losing their baby teeth?

The lower center teeth are often the first to appear in children, usually at about age 6 months. They're also the first baby teeth to fall out — followed by the upper center teeth — usually at about age 6 years.

Baby teeth fall out on their own to make room for permanent teeth. Once your child loses his or her first baby teeth, the remaining baby teeth will gradually loosen and fall out until about age 12 or 13 years. They generally fall out in the order they came in, with the center incisor teeth first, followed by the first baby molars, then the canines, and the second molars.

Some children are excited about losing baby teeth, while others are nervous about this milestone. While losing baby teeth often causes no discomfort, some children experience sore gums and minimal bleeding. Pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) and over-the-counter topical analgesics may help.

Because your child's permanent teeth will have to last a lifetime, it's important to take good care of them. Teach your child to brush his or her own teeth after each meal. It's also a good time to start showing your child how to floss at bedtime. Children should have their first dentist appointment at about age 3 years — earlier if problems occur.

As soon as the permanent back teeth have broken through, your child's dentist may cover them with a brush-on sealant. This can help protect them against tooth decay. Other steps you can take to decrease your child's risk of tooth decay include:

  • Limit sugary treats. This includes juices with high sugar content, such as apple juice.
  • Give your child a fluoride supplement, if your water doesn't contain fluoride. Your child's doctor or dentist may prescribe a fluoride supplement.
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