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.

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

  1. yasmin says:

    hi i am 13 years old and i still have some baby teeth all the molars are still baby teeth and two upper canines, one was pulled by the dentist years ago and it didn’t grow till now and the other one is still a baby tooth my teeth are not really crooked but my dentist said that there is no space what should i do?

    • You may be perfectly normal Yasmin, even with a few more baby teeth than other girls your age. It sounds like you’re already seeing a dentist, and that’s the best way to know for sure that there are no problems.

  2. Vikashni says:

    My daughter is 19.she has not lost any of her baby teeth.in have been taking her to the dentist every six months from the time she had her first teeth.her first teeth was when she was 3.she doesn’t eat any junk or fizzy drinks. Only takes fruits and water from the time she started eating. Is something wrong with that

    • If your daughter is 19 years old and has not lost any baby teeth, there is something very serious going on. Your dentist know that this is not normal and should have been taking x-rays all along the way. If not, find a new dentist. There are two possible problems, primary failure of eruption (where the permanent teeth just don’t come in) and agenesis (where the permanent teeth just aren’t there). An x-ray will reveal which it is

  3. Jiaxin says:

    I am 13 this year but I still have one of my baby teeth , it is not wobbly and it seem to make my 2 front teeth overcrowded,should I pull them off ?

    • It is normal to still have a baby tooth at 13. Baby teeth however don’t make the other teeth crooked and removing them won’t make them straight. There are a lot of factors in play here. It sounds like you might benefit from an orthodontic evaluation. Good luck!

  4. Issa says:

    My son age is eight years and six months he did not loose any of his teeth I took him to dentist pulled him two teeth at first visit and pulled another two lower front teeth now two month past since last visit and still no singn of new teeth.
    What should I do?

  5. Cherry says:

    I have a 10 year old daughter. She have not lost any baby teeth besides just one. She still have her front 4 baby teeth on the bottom and top. Is this normal? I have taken her to the dentist and they have done x rays before. But have not heard the dentist mention anything to me about her teeth being “abnormal”.

  6. Anissa says:

    My son is 11 and has only lost 4 teeth. I have been trying to find out if this is normal or not. I feel that I need to find a new dentist since they never tell me if it is ok or not. They just keep saying they will fall out soon.

    • Your son started with 20 baby teeth. By age 8, he should have lost 8. By age 11, he should have lost between 12 and 16. From what you’ve told me, your son is behind schedule and should be evaluated by an orthodontic specialist to see what is going on.

  7. worried mom says:

    hi my boy is 8 and going 9. till now he has not drop a single baby tooth. i am worried. pls advise.

  8. LaToya says:

    Hello. My son is 6 and he’ll be 7 in Sept. He’s lost both of his front bottom teeth, but has yet to lose his top two teeth. Their a little loose and have spaces between them. I can see a tooth coming in underneath one, because it’s kind pushed to the side. I’m wondering if I need to take him to the dentist to have them removed. I fear the ones coming in may come in crocked if the baby teeth don’t fall out soon.

  9. Arnold says:

    Hey DR. My son still has 9 baby teeth in his mouth in his mouth at the age of 13. Im not sure weather to be worried. May you please advise on what to do because the dentist has not had any recommendations so far. Cheers, Arnold

    • I can’t diagnose your son from here, but it does sound like he’s about 3 years behind schedule. He may be fine, but slow. The only way to know is to have him seen by an orthodontic specialist who is an expert at dental development.

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