By age 3, most children have all 20 of their primary teeth. However, you only have about three years or so without much tooth-related drama. Those teeth that likely have caused your child so plenty of pain as they were coming in and so much stress for you are called baby teeth for a reason.

Around the age of six, they start to fall out to make way for permanent adult teeth. Baby teeth typically fall out in the order that they come in — so the bottom two teeth are usually the first to go, followed by the top two. There’s not much rhyme or reason to the timing, but all baby teeth should be gone by age 13. When your childs baby teeth start wiggling, you may wonder if you should let the tooth fall out on its own, or give it a helping hand. Heres some guidance on that matter.

Manydentistswill advise you leave loose teeth alone for a couple of reasons (besides the potential for pain). If you pull the tooth instead of letting it come out on its own, there’s a greater chance that the gums will bleed. There’s also an increased risk of infection, some dentists say.

Of course, many parents will help their children pull a wiggly tooth — especially if your kid is freaked out by a dangling tooth or afraid that he might swallow it. If parents are going to help pull those pesky teeth, its important to know that theres a right way and a wrong way to go about it.

Forget what you may have seen on television; running a string from the tooth to a doorknob and slamming the door is decidedly not a painless way to remove a loose tooth! Encourage your child to do lots of wiggling of the tooth, with either his finger or tongue. You may not need to do any pulling at all. If this doesn’t work, only consider more drastic measures if the tooth is literally flopping around in the socket or hanging on by a tiny thread. Otherwise, all of your pulling and tugging will hurt and probably lead to bleeding.

If he or she is up for it, try to get your child to pull their own tooth. Only they can tell exactly how loose it is and when the pulling becomes painful. To keep a firm grip on the tooth, use a piece of gauze or tissue, then grasp the tooth and twist it out. You could also let food do the work for you by having your child bite into an apple (you may find the tooth embedded in it soon afterward) or bite into an ice pop, which can also help to numb any pain.

You may want to check with your dentist to get his take on pulling teeth at home. Sometimes permanent teeth will come in behind baby teeth, creating a double row called “shark’s teeth.” Occasionally, baby teeth refuse to come out at all and need to be pulled in the dentist’s office, although this is rare.

Whether you pull them or not, all of those baby teeth will soon be gone, and your child will have a mouthful of permanent teeth and be through yet another rite of passage.

Some other common baby teeth questions:

Is it dangerous to swallow a tooth?
Nope. It passes through the body and does no harm. Reassure your kid the Tooth Fairy will come if he leaves a note.

Whats the Tooth Fairys going rate?
According to a recent poll of about 550 readers on, the most popular amount is $1. More than 40 percent reported that the Tooth Fairy left a dollar bill or coin under their child’s pillow.

Is it scary for kids?
Many are nervous that it will hurt or that they won’t be able to eat. Reassure your child that it might tingle a bit, but if they are in pain, you can always put a cream (an over-the-counter topical anesthetic like Orajel) on their gums.

When will they get permanent teeth?
It often takes a few weeks to see the ridges of the new tooth, and a few months before it’s fully grown. But sometimes permanent teeth start growing in behind baby teeth. If they’re more than halfway in, ask a dentist if the baby tooth needs to be pulled. Also check with her if a new tooth is crooked or discolored.

If you have any questions about baby teeth, call Winning Smiles to schedule an appointment with your dentist 716-332-2444.

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