Dr. Greg Jorgensen
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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.

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

  1. MaheswariKandhasamy says:

    hi,

    am 23 years old, but my one baby teeth yet to fall, my permanent was growing upper next my nose, last week only i went to hospital and I check with that, if there is any problem on that, but i didnt affect any pain or other problem by baby teeth, kindly suggest me any treatment.

  2. Sydnee says:

    I’m 13 and my baby tooth has not fallen out they say there is no adult tooth behind it what can they do ? Could I get a flipper?

    • There are many options for replacing a missing permanent tooth. 1) leave the baby tooth there as long as possible, 2) close the space with braces, 3) replace with a bridge, either bonded or conventional, or 4) replace with an implant. You should discuss which option is best for you with a local orthodontist

  3. Nada says:

    Hi I’m 13. I only lost 6 baby teeth and they haven’t been falling out for the past 3 years. Is it something tp worry about?

  4. Johnathan says:

    Hello, I’m going to be 17 in 2 months but my baby teeth haven’t all fallen out yet and now behind my left k-9 tooth which is a baby tooth still, I have my adult tooth behind it, it’s been this way for about 2-3years..any recommendations?

  5. Charlie says:

    Hey, uh well basically I’ve lost about 10 baby teeth and I’m turning 13 in a month and a half. So is that a concern? Another thing is that one of my adult teeth that are growing in ( it’s a canine ) has started to become kinda wobbly… HELP?

  6. Collins says:

    My baby boy will b nine in oct.he is yet to loss two milk teeth under.we visited a dentist,after doing the xray, no permanent teeth was there for the two.those were the two first teeth he brought out as a baby. What should I do am worried.

    • When permanent teeth are missing, you have several choices. 1) keep the baby teeth as long as possible, 2) remove the baby teeth and close the spaces orthodontically if appropriate, or 3) replace the missing teeth with implants. An orthodontist can help you determine what is best for your son.

  7. aarley swift says:

    hi
    i am 24…and only one of my baby tooth has not fall out (incisor). i visited the dentist 3 days ago and had an x-ray taken. i was told that my replacement tooth was stuck up my jawline i could also see that in the x-ray …and i was informed that i needed a surgery to get it extracted…my question is isn’t there an alternative…like medicine that can help my tooth push the baby tooth instead of getting surgery?

  8. Clare says:

    Hi my son is 9 and a half, he has lost all his front teeth apart from one of his top front ones, it’s not wobbly in the slightest, I just wondered if this was considered normal or not, it bothers him slightly because his other baby teeth that have fallen out have all had the adult teeth come through and his lasting baby tooth makes his top front adult tooth look a lot bigger than it actually is.

  9. ashlee says:

    Hi My daughter has just turned ten. She has lost some baby teeth bit her two top front teeth still haven’t come out. She says they are a bit loose but nothing realm loose yet, just a little wiggle. She is frightened by dentists and is now afraid they will never fall out. Os this age of ten unheard of to still have two baby teeth on the top?

  10. rose says:

    hi im 12 years old and 13 in 5 months time. i have only lost 8 teeth (all my incisors) and my 2 bottom canines are slightly wobbly. also the bottom row of my teeth are severely crowded. what should i do?!

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