Baby teeth are supposed to be shed (exfoliate) naturally over time. The permanent tooth starts to come in behind the baby tooth, which pushes on the root and wears it down until the tooth falls out. But what happens if you lose a baby tooth too early?
A baby tooth may fall out too early for a variety of reasons. If this happens before the permanent tooth is ready to come in, it can cause some dental or orthodontic problems. But this situation is easy to remedy with the help of your dentist.
Reasons a Baby Tooth May Be Lost Early
A baby tooth may come out before the permanent tooth is ready in the following situations:
- Trauma/Accident. A baby tooth can get knocked out by accident. It could happen in a fall, a sports injury, or some other trauma.
- Gum Disease. Periodontal disease, commonly called gum disease, is an infection of the gums caused by excess buildup of plaque on the teeth. When gum disease goes untreated and becomes severe, it can cause the teeth to loosen and even fall out.
- Health Conditions. Some health conditions can cause baby teeth to fall out early, such as childhood cancer or bone diseases.
Problems That Result From Early Loss of Baby Teeth
There are a variety of dental and orthodontic issues that can arise from a baby tooth that is lost too soon, such as:
- Shifting teeth. When a space is left open in the mouth for too long, the other teeth will gradually shift into the open space. These teeth will be out of place and can disrupt the natural shedding of other baby teeth.
- Crowding. The teeth may become crowded together in the open space and prevent the permanent tooth from having enough space to come in properly.
- Damage to permanent teeth. The permanent teeth can be damaged under the gums and after they erupt from the impact of the other teeth that have moved out of place and pushed against them.
What To Do If Your Child Loses a Baby Tooth Too Early
The first thing to do is call your dentist. A pediatric dentist will have the expertise to advise you on the best course of action. The dentist will evaluate your child’s teeth and mouth. X-Rays will likely be recommended to evaluate the location of the permanent teeth and make sure there was no damage done under the gums.
If the permanent tooth is on the verge of coming in, there may be nothing that needs to be done. However, if the permanent tooth is not ready to come in for a while, it may be necessary to use a space maintainer to hold the spot open. A space maintainer can be a permanent appliance or removable like a retainer. When the permanent tooth comes in, the space maintainer will no longer be needed.
Benefits of a Space Maintainer
Space maintainers are beneficial in situations where a baby tooth is lost too early. Benefits include:
- Avoid shifting teeth. You can prevent the other teeth from shifting out of place. Shifting teeth can become crooked and also prevent permanent teeth from coming in correctly.
- Prevent future orthodontic treatment. A space maintainer is a form of interceptive orthodontics. You may prevent the need for future orthodontic treatment such as braces or other teeth aligning systems, or you may shorten the amount of time your future orthodontic treatment may take.
- Permanent space maintainers can’t be lost. A permanent space maintainer stays in place until the dentist removes it. This ensures that it can’t be lost.
- Removable space maintainers are convenient. A removable space maintainer, like a retainer, can be taken out for eating and dental care.
Has Your Child Lost a Baby Tooth Prematurely? Contact ABQ Pediatric Dentistry
If your child has lost a baby tooth before it was ready to come out, contact ABQ Pediatric Dentistry. We have plenty of experience with these situations. Dr. Rawson will carefully evaluate your child’s mouth to determine the best course of action. If a space maintainer is needed, we can provide it.