Dr. Greg Jorgensen
(505) 891-9440
1401 Barbara Loop SE
Rio Rancho, NM 87124

The Jorgensen Orthodontics Blog

Why Aren’t My Child’s Baby Teeth Falling Out?

Posted by Dr. Jorgensen on October 20th, 2011

Missing front toothParents often worry that something is wrong when a child’s baby teeth do not fall out as expected. Although there are some developmental issues which require professional attention, most of the time everything is just fine. What should parents expect when it comes to their children losing baby teeth?

Baby teeth serve several purposes besides chewing. Primary teeth give rise to the permanent teeth and preserve space for them until they are developed enough to come in. If the baby teeth come out too early, space can be lost causing crowding of the underlying permanent ones. At the other extreme, baby teeth that are not lost on time can force the permanent ones to come in crooked creating a more difficult orthodontic condition.

The most common reasons for primary teeth to be lost early are decay, trauma, and crowding. If a tooth has to be pulled because of disease or is lost due to trauma, your dentist is usually already involved. If the teeth are crowded, your child may lose two primary teeth naturally to accommodate the eruption of a single larger permanent tooth. If baby teeth are lost prematurely, an orthodontist should be consulted to see if a space maintainer is needed.

There are several conditions which prevent the baby teeth from falling out on schedule. If the underlying teeth are crowded, they may not be able to push out the overlying baby teeth. Baby teeth with no underlying permanent replacements may be retained indefinitely. Extra teeth can block the normal eruption of the regular permanent ones. With a simple x-ray, your orthodontist can tell you if there really is a problem or if your child is just developing slowly.

The most common reason for parents’ concern however is just misunderstanding the normal sequence of tooth loss in their developing child. The first baby teeth are usually lost at about six years of age. Some children may lose theirs as early as five or as late as seven and neither variation is a problem. By age eight, the average child will have lost eight baby teeth; four front teeth on top and four front teeth on the bottom. Again, a variation of a year in either direction is nothing to worry about. Between the ages of eight and ten there is not much change in the number of teeth. In other words, it is normal for a child to lose eight teeth in a row and then stop for about two years! (It is during this two-year “break” that it is best to provide interceptive orthodontic treatment if it is needed.) Around ten years of age the remaining teeth begin to loosen and fall out. The average adolescent loses their last primary tooth before they are 13 years old. The 12-year-molars also make their appearance during that 12th year (hence the name).

Most questions about delayed tooth loss come during that two year span between eight and ten where no teeth are lost. Such inactivity is unexpected by parents but completely normal. In my practice I don’t worry about delayed tooth loss unless I can see that 1) the retained primary teeth are causing problems for the incoming permanent ones, 2) the 12-year molars are already erupted, or 3) the delayed tooth loss will cause orthodontic treatment to be started at an awkward age (i.e. the junior and senior years of high school). An important service that your orthodontist can provide is monitoring the dental development of your child and counseling with you about the need to have primary teeth removed if that should be necessary.

NOTE: The author, Dr. Greg Jorgensen, is a board-certified orthodontist who is in the private practice of orthodontics in Rio Rancho, New Mexico (a suburb on the westside of Albuquerque). He was trained at BYU, Washington University in St. Louis, and the University of Iowa in the United States. Dr. Jorgensen’s 25 years of specialty practice and 10,000 finished cases qualify him an expert in two-phase treatment, extraction and non-extraction therapy, functional orthodontics, clear aligners (Invisalign), and multiple bracket systems (including conventional braces, Damon and other self-ligating brackets, Suresmile, and lingual braces). This blog for informational purposes only and is designed to help consumers understand currently accepted orthodontic concepts. It is not a venue for debating alternative treatment theories. Dr. Jorgensen is licensed to diagnose and treat patients only in the state of New Mexico. He cannot diagnose cases described in comments nor can he select treatment plans for readers. Because he has over 25,000 readers each month, it is impossible for him respond to all questions. Please read all of the comments associated with each article as most of the questions he receives each week have been asked and answered previously. The opinions expressed here are protected by copyright laws and can only be used with written permission from the author.

526 comments so far in response to “Why Aren’t My Child’s Baby Teeth Falling Out?”

  1. Zoha says:

    Hello sir my daughter is 14 and she lost her lateral incisor for the first time I just wanted to ask will it grow back?

    • The only way to know is to have an x-ray taken and evaluated by a local orthodontist. He or she can tell you what you can expect and when. My guess is that the underlying tooth can’t come in on its own because it is crowded.

  2. D'Andre says:

    Hello, I’m 15 years old and I’ve been wondering this one thing for a while.

    Most of my teeth are still baby teeth, and very few have mamelons. I also do not remember losing many baby teeth when I was younger, but I have lost a few. But, most of my teeth are still very small and baby teeth. What do I do? Will this problem resolve itself? I would really like to know, because I feel my smile has been affected by it. On top of it, my four “canine” teeth are all pointy-edged. Will this resolve itself, or is a dentist procedure to fix it the only way?

    Thank you.

    • You should have lost all of your baby teeth by age 15. If you still have some, you need to be evaluated by and orthodontist who can take an x-ray and let you know what is going on.

  3. savannah says:

    Hello, I am 12 years old and have only lost 1 baby tooth on my own and have had 8 pulled out at the dentist. SO the total is 9. I understand to have braces you must have all your permanent teeth. So at this rate how old do you think I will be when all my baby teeth are gone? Do you know why I am so far behind?

  4. sjdg says:

    hi,in what age becomes your teeth permanents? im 13 years old, do you think i still have a baby tooth? thankyou.

  5. Abby says:

    I am 11 years old and I lost my first tooth when I was eight. I lost eight teeth over that year but since then I haven’t lost any. Occasionally My baby teeth feel wobbly, but they never come out. my dentist did mention that the bottom teeth were crowded, and I do have an adult tooth that grew right back in my gum but I don’t think that is the problem. My sister and brothers teeth come out all the time, but mine seem to be super glued in place (Not literally.)I haven’t lost any teeth for three years, almost four, because it is almost my birthday.I am hoping I don’t have a medical condition, but I’m not sure. can you please tell me whats wrong?

  6. aj laraya says:

    iam 14 years old and i still have 2 baby teeth infront.. is it normal?

    • The only way to know if you are normal is to have a local orthodontist get a x-ray of you and see what is going on under those teeth. Most 14-year-olds do not still have baby teeth

  7. Amber says:

    My son is 10 years old and has only lost four teeth. Two top and two bottom. He has been xrayed and the dentist hasn’t seen anything abnormal. However, the pediatrician is concerned about growth hormone deficiency because of he is not gaining height the way they would expect. Have you ever seen a child delayed in loosing baby teeth because of other physical delays? Or growth hormone deficiency?

    • I think that loosing teeth and physical development go hand in hand. Having only lost four teeth would make him a dental age of about 6. I wonder if his physician could estimate his physical age and if it is close to his dental age. Interesting.

  8. anxious mom says:

    hi. my boy is 8 years old but none of his baby teeth has dropped. neither any adult teeth yet. im worried. dentist tell me hold out bit more before taking x ray later this year. What shld I do? Im worried stricken daily. advise pls. Thanks.

  9. Concerned mom says:

    My son will be 7 year old in a month.He didn’t loose his baby teeth yet. But his permanent front tooth on the bottom has started erupting without the baby tooth fall. Will the baby tooth falls off naturally or do I need to consult with the doctor?

    • It is time for a visit to the orthodontist. Sometimes the teeth are crowded and the permanent ones come in behind their intended locations. Your orthodontist can help you determine if the baby teeth will need to be removed.

  10. Hannah Self says:

    Hey Doctor, My daughter is thirteen and hasn’t lost her most of her baby teeth. Is that odd?

    • She may not be “average,” but it is not abnormal for a 13-year-old to have many baby teeth. Only a local orthodontist can tell you if your daughter specifically has a problem.

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