Should I Pull My Child's Loose Tooth?

I have a five-year-old son who is losing one of his baby teeth. I want to pull it, but I don't want to hurt him. The tooth wiggles a little. The permanent tooth is growing underneath. What should I do?

Question:

Unless your son is experiencing serious pain, this is not a dental emergency. Before extracting the tooth, make sure it is very loose. If it appears to be "holding on by a thread," it is probably ready to come out. If it is only slightly mobile, some root structure may still be present. If the permanent tooth is visible but seems to be misplaced in relation to the primary tooth, a dentist may need to extract the primary tooth. I will occasionally advise children to wiggle the tooth with their tongue or a clean finger for two weeks. If the primary tooth is still present after 2-3 weeks of wiggling, then I will reevaluate the situation.

Here are some tips for the safe removal of mobile baby teeth. First, make sure your child understands how you will help remove their loose tooth. Numb the area around the loose tooth by rubbing some mouthwash, like Listerine, Scope, or Cepacol, on the gums using a clean Q-tip. Chloraseptic spray may also help soothe the gum tissue. Firmly grasp a dry, clean tissue or gauze pad between your fingers and the tooth. Distract the child momentarily to avoid teeth clenching or other reflexes that may occur while they brace for the extraction. Quickly, pull the tooth straight out while simultaneously giving it a twist. Be sure to hold onto the tooth so the child does not swallow or choke on it. Some minor bleeding may occur for a few minutes after the tooth has been removed. The minor bleeding should subside quickly. Have your child bite down on a clean gauze pad or tissue for a few minutes. This will quickly stop minor bleeding. Finally, prepare for a visit from the Tooth Fairy!

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