How long before loose tooth falls out?

How long does it usually take to lose a loose tooth? My 7-year old's first loose tooth began about 5 weeks ago. It is still firmly attached, and the adult tooth is coming in behind it, bent back into his mouth. I am concerned that he will need orthodontic work later to straighten out the new tooth if the old one doesn't move out of place in time.

Question:

Dear Paula,

The amount of time for exfoliation (loss) of the primary tooth can vary. This depends on how quickly the root of the primary tooth is being resorbed by the permanent tooth pushing its way into the oral cavity. In some cases, either due to the position of the permanent tooth or due to possible trauma to the primary tooth, the root of the primary tooth is not properly resorbed. In these cases, the primary tooth will not exfoliate on its own; a dentist will need to extract the primary tooth.

While it is a fairly common occurrence for the lower anterior permanent teeth to erupt slightly behind the primary teeth, if eruption of the permanent teeth is too far behind, this may be an indication the primary roots are not properly resorbing. I recommend taking your son to the dentist to have a radiograph (x-ray) taken of the area. This radiograph is simple and will help determine the relative positions of the permanent and primary teeth. Your dentist will be able to better diagnose if the primary teeth may eventually be lost on their own, or if he or she will need to remove them.

Once the primary teeth are lost or extracted, the permanent teeth may eventually drift into their proper positions. This will depend upon the spacing which is available. You may need to have a consult with the orthodontist. If not enough space exists for the permanent teeth, early intervention to utilize your son's growth potential may preclude the need for later extraction of permanent teeth and can have more stable results in the long-term.

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