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.

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

  1. Amber says:

    My child is 7.5 years old and not even one of his baby tooth has fallen out. I am concerned please can you explain

  2. Ousha says:

    My son is actually 7 years old and he has not yet lose any teeth.
    Not even a sign of teeth falling, he will be 8 yrs old in December.

  3. Natalya says:

    Hi. I started losing teeth when I was 7 and now I am 12 and have lost 10 teeth. One of my permanent bottom premolars is growing horizontally. The chewing side is facing my tongue. Can you explain?

  4. Kat says:

    My son will be 12 in 4 months and has only lost 8 baby teeth. He is seeing an orthodontist next week to see about a significant overbite. Will they most likely assess his baby teeth situation before doing anything about his overbite?

    • I can’t speak for your local doctor, but in my office I consider the severity of the overbite when determining the best time to start treatment. It is best to wait until all of the primary teeth are gone, but we sometimes must begin earlier if the problems are socially handicapping, function is difficult, or if there are conditions that can’t improve without help (impacted teeth for example).

  5. Ella says:

    I am 13 and only my front 8 teeth have fell out (4 top 4 bottom). My dentist thinks he should pull them out with specialist advice but I am scared and have needles and pain. One tooth is slightly wobbly but that won’t make much a difference and I think if I have them pulled out they might not come back in because if they were going to grow in they would push through themselves. I don’t like the idea of have lots of teeth out but the orthodontist say if I didn’t do it soon the adult teeth might loose their eruption. What shall I do?

    • Most 13-year-olds have lost all of your baby teeth. Only your local orthodontist can tell you if you need help getting the remaining baby teeth removed. If you are really apprehensive about needles, you can ask your oral surgeon to be sedated during the procedure, that’s what I do.

  6. Bianca A. says:

    Hi. I have a baby tooth that has been loose for 1.5 months. Do i have to get it extracted? Im scared of getting a tooth extracted mostly about the pain!

  7. Latifa says:

    Hi i am 19 .. how should know whether my molars tooth are primary or secondary …
    I think it is primary or baby teeth … i dont remember if i have lost my baby teeth the molar ones !

    I lost my premolar one when i was 15 …

    Is such case possible , not losing one’s baby teeth ( molar ) ???

  8. Vicky Duplessis says:

    My daughter is 13 years old and has already had 9 baby teeth extracted which is very detrimental. She has her top braces and recently, yesterday, had her bottom braces put on and was told that she still has two baby teeth that they would probably have to extract if they don’t come out in the next eight weeks. Are there any techniques she could try to help loosen these teeth before they need to be extracted?

    • I’m not sure why having baby teeth is “detrimental.” If they don’t come out on their own having them removed is sometimes necessary. My daughter had 9 removed along the way also and she’s doing great!

  9. haritha says:

    hi i am 23.my teeth is severely paining i had consulted the dentist,i got my x-ray of complete mouth.there they declared that i did not lost 8 baby teeth.what should i do now.is der any treatment for this…

    • You’ve done the first thing and that is see a dentist. He can tell you what needs to happen next. There must be something else causing the pain however. Baby teeth don’t hurt.

Leave a Comment

Back to Top

Your account login
Your rewards
Schedule an appointment with our talented orthodontist online