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.

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

  1. Jessica G. says:

    I am 29 now and currently have 2 baby teeth still in my mouth. Now, I have 2 large (well they feel large to me) bumps in the roof of my mouth which I can only assume are my adult teeth that never came out. I don’t have health insurance, therefore, my dental needs have not been addressed for years. My question is: If I have the baby teeth removed, will the adult teeth move on into place? Also, why are they in the roof of my mouth and why did they never push the old ones out? Questions I’ve been asking myself for years and you probably can’t answer all of them, but thank you in advance for your advice!

    • Having your baby teeth out at this point will NOT help at all. This is a very complex problem that would require several years of treatment to correct. If you cannot get treatment now, do all you can to take care of the baby teeth until you can. At least they’re holding space and filling the gaps so you can smile!

  2. Heather says:

    My daughter is almost 13 and still has 10 baby teeth left (including molars and canines). Not all of the baby teeth are loose yet and ready to fall out. She needs to get braces soon because her two front teeth have a gap between them, is this a concern I need to take up with a dentist? Do you know why her teeth aren’t falling out?

  3. Meghan says:

    My daughter has two teeth the are being pushed up by the permanent teeth so it looks like she has vampire fangs, however the teeth will not come out no matter how hard she pulls, should we seek professional help?

  4. Bella says:

    I took my 14 years old son to the dentist for a routine check-up and We find out that my son still has 2 milk teeth. The dentist just informed us didn’t say much more. My question is what about the adult teeth underneath, how can they came out if the milk teeth are stopping them. What consequences it will have in the future if they don’t fall out? shall I propose to the dentist to extract the teeth?

    • I don’t think you’ll have to propose having the teeth removed Bella. If the permanent teeth are there, your orthodontist will probably recommend that right off the bat. The consequences of not losing primary teeth include making the permanent ones come in crooked.

  5. runeela jalal says:

    My son is 9 and still is not losing milk teeth. Only one front has fallen and it is been two months that the new tooth has not appeared. I am getting worried. I do not see any problems in facial features and he is outstanding in academics too. What can be wrong with him?

  6. Nikhil K. says:

    Hello Dr. Jorgensen. I have just lost a permanent tooth, but another tooth is growing. I am 10. Why is this?

  7. Dk says:

    My wife still has her baby teeth so do her siblings.what can I do to prevent this in my baby.

    • You can’t change your wife’s genetics. The only way to be 100% sure your baby doesn’t inherit her problem is to have a baby with another woman (haha, that is a joke!). There is no way to prevent your wife from passing this trait along to your children. In my family, many of my relative are missing lower bicuspids. There is nothing that can be done.

  8. trinity says:

    Hello Dr jorgensen .I’m nearly 13 and I only have 8 adult teeth,is this good for my age if not what should I do ?

  9. Richard Heisenberg says:

    My son who is 8 years old has only lost 2 teeth. None are loose. He’s 2 years behind in molars. He has an underbite. Should I be concerned?

  10. Emma D says:

    hi, my son is 7 years 8 months and not lost any baby teeth yet, should I be concerned?

    • Probably not, but the American Association of Orthodontist recommends that all children be screened for problems at age 7 so that this questions can be addressed. Time for an evaluation!

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