Should You Ever Pull A Child’s Loose Tooth?

Patience is a virtue, although some impatience is to be expected when one of your child's teeth starts to loosen. Your child wants that tooth gone with its loss (and the imminent arrival of a permanent adult tooth) being a sign of growing up, not to mention the fact that the Tooth Fairy might leave a few bucks under their pillow. Yes, your child wants that tooth to hurry up and fall out, and you might be tempted to get in on the act. But is it wise to give a loose tooth a bit of encouragement?

Traumatic Removal

Many of the ways in which a loose tooth can be pulled out are rather brutal. To tie a piece of thread to the tooth, secure the other end to a door handle, and then slam the door—what could go wrong? Quite a lot actually. The trauma of pulling a tooth out in a forceful manner can rupture blood vessels, triggering excessive bleeding and pain. A baby tooth loosens when the adult tooth beneath it dissolves its root structure, severing its anchor. Forceful removal of the tooth can be unpleasant and potentially risky while being completely unnecessary.

Small, Gentle Measures

It's impossible to entirely leave a loose tooth to its own devices. The tooth is subjected to pressure as part of the natural motion of your child's jaw, whether due to eating or talking. The tip of your child's tongue will be regularly brushing against the tooth, whether deliberately or not. These small, gentle measures are generally all the assistance a tooth needs to detach. If a tooth seems unwilling to detach, it's time to consult the pediatric dental specialists at your family dental clinic.

When Assistance Is Needed

When a baby tooth loosens but remains in place for a prolonged period of time, it can be that the tooth needs some assistance to come out. This should only be professional dental assistance, delivered in a sterile setting, as opposed to the string and door handle approach. Sometimes a baby tooth can loosen without detaching, and this can be due to overcrowding in your child's upper or lower dental arch. Without adequate space to erupt, an adult tooth can fail to completely push a baby tooth out of the way, so the dissolution of the root structure can be incomplete. Orthodontic treatment might be needed to align your child's bite and extract the loose baby tooth, guiding it into place as part of your child's treatment. 

Although a loose tooth should never be forcefully pulled, it's inevitably going to receive some gentle encouragement from the natural pressure that it's subjected to. In some circumstances, your child's dentist may opt to extract the tooth, but this is a task best left to the professionals.