Most children have all 20 of their baby teeth by the time they turn 3. As the pediatric dentists at Stellar Kids Dentistry in Mukilteo, Everett, and Mill Creek, Washington, know, these temporary teeth fall out at different times over the coming years.
By age 13, most teens have 28 of their permanent teeth. Wisdom teeth — the final molars to emerge — grow in between the ages of 17 and 21.
Your child has years of new teeth to look forward to. That’s why it may come as a surprise when their dentist recommends a tooth extraction for their baby teeth. You might be wondering, if baby teeth are temporary, why does my child need a tooth extraction?
That’s a great question! Let’s talk a little more about what baby teeth are and why they sometimes need to be removed early.
What are baby teeth?
Baby teeth, or milk teeth, emerge when your baby is around 6 months old. They keep growing for the next 3-4 years. Over the next 10 years, your child will lose all their baby teeth and their permanent teeth will emerge.
While baby teeth are temporary, they act as a blueprint for how your child’s permanent teeth will grow in. That’s why it’s important to care for baby teeth just as well as you would adult teeth.
When is a baby tooth extraction necessary?
Ideally, your child’s baby teeth should remain intact until they’re ready to fall out naturally. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Common reasons pediatric dentists extract baby teeth are:
When caught early, tooth decay can be treated with fillings or dental crowns. Once it progresses, though, the damage is too advanced to treat. The Stellar Kids team may recommend extracting a baby tooth early to prevent any more damage.
A broken tooth puts your child at risk of damage and tooth decay. It can even change the way your child chews and bites down. To protect their oral health, the team may extract the tooth early.
Impacted baby tooth
An impacted tooth is a tooth that hasn’t broken through the gums when it should have. This might happen because your child has crowded teeth (extra teeth) or because their mouth is too small. Without treatment, impacted baby teeth can lead to cavities, gum pain, and even a tooth infection.
If your child is getting braces and they only have a few baby teeth left, their dentist may decide to pull them.
What happens during a tooth extraction?
There are two different types of tooth extractions that the Stellar Kids team performs:
Simple tooth extraction
During a simple tooth extraction, the team uses a local anesthetic to numb your child’s gums. Next, they use special dental tools to pull the damaged or decayed tooth from its socket. There should be very minimal pain and bleeding.
Surgical tooth extraction
If a baby tooth is trapped inside your child’s gums, the team needs to make an incision to extract the tooth. During this oral surgery procedure, your child’s dentist administers an anesthetic to make sure they’re comfortable. Then, they make a small incision in the gums and remove the tooth with special tools. Finally, they suture the gums to prevent infection.
If you think your child needs a baby tooth extraction, call Stellar Kids Dentistry or schedule an appointment online today!