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To Pull Or Not To Pull: What To Do About A Loose Baby Tooth

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A loose tooth can be a big deal to a small child, but forcing it out isn't always the best course of action. Here's some helpful information on how to handle a loose baby tooth:

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

While it may be tempting for you or your child to get that loose tooth out of the way, if it isn't really ready, pulling it out will cause undue pain and could result in infection. Additionally, if your attempts to remove it fail, the tooth could be left in an awkward position, resulting in more discomfort than before. Gums may also bleed more than what you're both comfortable with when a tooth is removed prematurely. Such an event may scare or even traumatize your child.

Might Your Child Accidentally Swallow That Loose Tooth?

Kids are often concerned that they'll swallow their loose tooth, like during meal times or as they sleep; however, this fear is generally unwarranted. Although it is possible and happens on occasion, it is rare and the tooth should pass through the digestive system without issue. If your child has swallowed a tooth and experiences any abdominal pain thereafter, though, it's a good idea to call your pediatrician.

How Do You Safely Pull A Tooth?

As an adult tooth grows in, the roots of the baby tooth detach and disintegrate and eventually, the tooth should drop out on its own. If the loose tooth gets in the way of eating or is excessively distressful to your child, it is best to call the family dentist and have them take it out professionally. Teeth that fall out on their own tend to bleed less, giving you another reason to let nature take its course, but if you see some need to remove the tooth without going to the dentist, try having your child brush their teeth or bite into an apple to hasten the process. If that's not successful, have your child wash their hands well and use clean gauze to secure and gently tug the tooth out. Be prepared with additional gauze and apply pressure to the vacant spot in the gums until all bleeding subsides.

It's usually better to let your child do the pulling, as they can tell if there's enough resistance to indicate the tooth may not come out. If your child's efforts are unsuccessful, revert back to extra brushing and biting an apple or other crunchy food. Repeated attempts to remove the loose tooth are not recommended, as this may cause the gums to become irritated and possibly infected.

When Should You Call The Dentist?

If the tooth was knocked loose by some force other than time and nature, contact the dentist, rather than helping the tooth out, as there could be some additional damage you can't see and forcing the tooth out might make the situation worse. If you have any other concerns about the loose tooth, it's always best to have a professional examine the mouth rather than risk complications.

Despite the annoyance, a loose tooth is a very normal part of childhood and should be left to run its course without intervention, but being patient isn't always easy for kids. The best thing you can both do is give the dentist a call and let them make the final decision. Click here for info about loose teeth.