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Pulling A Tooth At Home: When It's OK And When It's Not

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

The loss of baby teeth can be an exciting time for both parents and children. Children generally lose their first baby tooth when they're between 6 and 7 years old, as the American Dental Association (ADA) explains. Baby teeth continue to fall out at various times throughout childhood, and the last ones fall out when children are around 12 years old. Loose baby teeth usually fall out on their own, but some children may be eager to speed up the process. Here are some safety tips and warnings for pulling a tooth at home.

Pulling a Loose Baby Tooth: Dos and Don'ts

By the time a baby tooth is loose, it's held in place by only a small amount of tissue, as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) notes. Children who are eager to lose these teeth may wiggle them out on their own with their fingers or tongues.

If your child wants help removing a loose tooth, the AAP offers the following tip: Grasp the tooth with a clean tissue or gauze and give it a quick twist. When pulling a tooth at home, the ADA reminds parents to be gentle. A tooth that is sufficiently loose will fall out with just a gentle squeeze.

If your child doesn't want help, don't try to pull out their tooth. Most baby teeth will eventually fall out on their own. If you're concerned about a tooth that doesn't seem to be falling out as it should, take your child to a dentist instead of trying to pull it out at home. As the AAP explains, your child's dentist may recommend extracting it.

What to Do After Pulling a Tooth at Home

Some children may feel scared or anxious about the loss of their baby teeth. After pulling your child's loose baby tooth, reassure them that losing their baby teeth is a completely normal part of growing up. Together, you can then place their lost tooth under their pillow for the tooth fairy's reward.

The loss of a baby tooth provides an opportunity to reinforce good dental habits. Children's teeth need to be brushed twice a day and flossed once a day, just like adults' teeth. Since children may not develop the dexterity to properly brush their teeth until they're 7 to 10 years old, you may need to offer some assistance, as the AAP notes. Also, the area where a baby tooth was lost may be sensitive, so the ADA recommends gentle brushing.

Can You Pull a Permanent Tooth at Home?

While it may be appropriate to gently remove a baby tooth that's already loose, you should never do the same for an adult tooth. Unlike baby teeth, adult teeth aren't supposed to get loose and fall out. A loose adult tooth may be a sign of an oral condition that requires treatment. If one of your child's adult teeth is loose, take them to a dentist for evaluation.

Adult teeth can become loose due to a more serious form of gum disease, notes the Mayo Clinic. Some symptoms of gum disease to watch out for include:

  • Red, tender, swollen gums
  • Gums that bleed easily and feel tender
  • Bad breath
  • Receding gums
  • Gaps between teeth

Injuries are another potential cause of loose adult teeth, as Stanford Children's Health explains. Children may damage their teeth in falls or other accidents. They could also hurt their teeth during play or sporting activities. In these cases, it's important to see a dentist as soon as possible for proper treatment.

Baby teeth will loosen and fall out on their own, but for children who are eager for a visit from the tooth fairy, pulling a tooth at home may be appropriate in certain circumstances. As for adult teeth, it's never a good idea to pull these at home, and you should see your dentist immediately if you do experience a loose tooth. To learn more about pulling baby teeth, talk to your pediatric dentist.

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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