The moment of the change of teeth in children is a significant event both for the little one and for their parents. The visit of the tooth fairy or the tooth fairy mobilizes the whole family. Undoubtedly, this childhood milestone is a demonstration of the child’s growth.
However, being prepared and knowing what to do when the milk teeth start to loosen helps to accompany this important process. For this reason, below we will tell you how and when the replacement of temporary teeth with permanent ones takes place and what precautions to take into account.
The process of tooth replacement
It is around the age of 6 when the stage of tooth change begins in children, known as “tooth replacement”. This process consists of the fall of the temporary teeth to be replaced by their definitive substitutes. It occurs gradually and ends with the replacement of the 20 deciduous teeth at around 12 years of age.
This is a very important event in the development of the child who is growing up to become an adult. This is because the milk teeth would be too small and weak to fulfill the oral functions of a large person.
The definitive elements are the ones that begin the dental replacement when they are ready to erupt. They do it through specialized cells that reabsorb the roots of the temporary teeth inside the bone.
As they lose the root that kept them fixed in the jaw, the milk teeth begin to move. There comes a time when the support is null and the loose tooth falls out. Once the temporary tooth is lost, the permanent tooth begins to appear in the empty space to take its place.
This situation occurs progressively until the permanent tooth is in its correct place. Permanent teeth are characterized by being larger than baby teeth. For this reason, the spaces between teeth, typical of temporary teeth, disappear.
In addition, during the replacement period, it is common for some permanent teeth to become crooked. In general, as the other elements fall out and the jawbone grows, they manage to align themselves. In any case, it is always advisable to have a pediatric dentist supervise the process.
At what age and in what order do children’s teeth change?
Each child has his or her own rhythm of growth and development, and this includes the appearance and loss of teeth. Often, baby teeth begin to loosen and fall out around the age of 6. But as we said, there are children who begin their replacement earlier and others much later.
The process of loose teeth falling out and their replacement by a definitive piece will happen little by little. It is estimated that around the age of 12, the child will have already changed his or her 20 baby teeth.
Also, at that age, the first and second permanent molars will have erupted in the back of the mouth. This happens without any baby teeth having fallen out to replace them.
Even so, the age at which teeth are changed varies among children and is influenced by different factors. Thus, there is an estimated age at which parents can expect the replacement to occur. Here are more details about this process.
Central incisors: the first teeth to erupt
It is quite common for the central incisors to be the first teeth to be changed. Most people lose the temporary elements in the same order in which they erupted. Since the lower central incisors are usually the first teeth to erupt, around 6 months of age, they are also the first to fall out.
The permanent tooth will begin to erupt on the inside of the gum, behind the baby teeth that have not yet fallen out. This happens around 6 or 7 years of age. After that, it is common for the upper central incisors to loosen and erupt.
The eruption of the permanent incisors occurs in front of the gum, which gives rise to the large upper central incisors that will accompany the person in adulthood.
Lateral incisors: the ones that follow
Once the central incisors have erupted, the lateral incisors will be the next to change. In general, it is the upper ones that loosen first, followed by the lower ones. These teeth are usually replaced between the ages of 7 and 8 years. With this, the eight anterior elements of the mouth will have already been changed.
Temporary first molars
The first temporary molars fall out between the ages of 9 and 11 years of age. The milk molars have the particularity of being replaced by a definitive tooth different from the one that comes out.
This is because the place left by the temporary molars will be occupied by the definitive premolars. Thus, the first temporary molar is replaced by the first premolar.
Temporary second molars and canines: the last to fall out
The last change of teeth in children corresponds to the temporary canines and second molars. The canines fall out between 9 and 12 years of age and are replaced by their permanent counterparts.
Between the ages of 10 and 12 the second molars fall out and are replaced by the second premolars. In general, these are the last elements to fall out and the ones that culminate the whole replacement process.
The permanent molars appear spontaneously in the posterior portion of the mouth, without replacing any deciduous teeth that fall out. They occupy a free space behind the temporary second molars.
The eruption of the permanent molars occurs at 6 years of age for the first permanent molar, at 12 years of age for the second and between 18 and 20 years of age for the third. The lower molars usually appear first and then the upper ones.
As the child grows, the jaws widen to allow the permanent teeth, which are larger than the milk teeth, to be positioned correctly. By the age of 13, most infants have their 28 permanent teeth in their mouths.
The 32 pieces of the adult dentition are completed with the eruption of the wisdom teeth, which happens around the age of 18. In any case, wisdom teeth do not erupt in everyone.
How to avoid inconveniences during the change of teeth in children?
The best strategy to avoid inconveniences during teeth replacement in children is to allow the process to develop naturally. This means not forcing or pulling out the teeth.
Sometimes it can take a long time from the time the tooth starts to move until it comes out. It is necessary to be patient and not try to speed up the process by exerting force or pressure.
Sudden movements or homemade methods to try to pull out the baby teeth are not a good idea, as they can hurt the oral tissues, frighten the child and damage the final tooth.
The piece is very loose and ready to come out when the child does not feel any pain when moving it and it bothers him/her to talk and eat. At that moment, the child should be encouraged to remove it himself or help him to take it out. The ideal is to practice the following:
- Take the loose tooth with a clean gauze or paper napkin and make a quick movement.
- Always verify that the process does not cause pain to the child; if it does, it is not yet the right time.
- Once the tooth comes out, children should be asked to rinse their mouth with water to clean the gums. They can also bite on a piece of gauze.
- In order to avoid further bleeding, children should be prevented from rinsing and spitting.
- For a few minutes the child is advised to remain quiet, without running, and not to eat or drink anything. Almost always, the bleeding is temporary and stops after a while.
- To take care of the final piece that is going to erupt, the child should be warned not to touch the empty site. It is also important not to put objects in the mouth.
When is it necessary to see a professional?
Generally speaking, the process of tooth replacement should be followed and supervised by a pediatric dentist. The professional can analyze the growth of the jaws and detect any problems early.
However, this does not mean that the child should be taken to the dentist every time a tooth becomes loose. It is advisable to have check-ups every six months from the baby’s first year of life.
With these biannual visits, the dentist will be able to observe and analyze the development of the structures of the mouth. At the same time, he/she will be able to detect any abnormality in order to treat it in a timely manner. Among other things, the dentist will guide parents on how to take care of their child’s mouth.
If between scheduled visits any doubt or inconvenience appears, it is always a good idea to seek professional help. These are some of the reasons to consult a pediatric dentist:
- Delay in tooth replacement: although each child follows his or her own rhythm of tooth replacement, the lack of loose teeth may generate doubts that should be clarified with a professional.
- Permanent teeth erupted crooked: the permanent teeth erupt where they can and, as the child grows, they usually settle. Despite this, an evaluation by the dentist is recommended.
- There is a double row of teeth: sometimes the permanent teeth fail to resorb the roots of the temporary teeth and erupt without erupting. This causes a double row of teeth that the dentist must evaluate. If necessary, the dentist will have to extract the baby teeth.
- Teeth erupt early: a blow or very advanced caries can cause the premature loss of the milk teeth. In these cases the dentist should intervene to save space for the permanent teeth and prevent malocclusions.
For prevention, it is important to request periodic visits with the pediatric dentist. Thus, it is possible to intervene if there is any dental alteration.
Taking care of the new teeth
It is important to take advantage of the stage of the change of teeth in children to teach them about the necessary care to keep these elements healthy throughout life. The habits that are incorporated during childhood can make the difference between having a healthy adult mouth or a mouth full of fillings.
Although children no longer need as much help brushing their teeth, it is good for adults to continue to supervise dental hygiene. It is a good idea to make sure of the following:
- That they use an adequate amount of toothpaste.
- That the technique is correct.
- Proper cleaning of all tooth surfaces.
- That they do not omit any brushing.
Another aspect to consider is to teach and help them to floss. Permanent teeth are usually closer to each other, so cleaning the middle of tooth and tooth is essential to maintain health.
Other important recommendations
- Use fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses to prevent oral diseases.
- Make semi-annual visits to the dentist, especially at the time of tooth replacement. The professional can evaluate the growth of the jaws and the eruption of the teeth to detect any problems early.
- If any pathology appears, prompt treatment will prevent any complications. The dentist may suggest cleanings, sealants or fluoride topications that help keep permanent teeth healthy and free of cavities.
- Eating a varied, balanced and nutritious diet also has an impact on the condition of the mouth. Ultra-processed and sugar-rich foods should be avoided.
Teeth for life
The change of teeth in children begins around the age of 6. From that age, the teeth that will accompany them for the rest of their lives begin to appear. Therefore, accompanying the process of tooth replacement and contributing to oral care is a responsibility of adults. Now you know how to do it.