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Many people do not realize that in addition to helping children eat and speak properly, primary teeth guide the permanent teeth into their correct positions. This occurs because the permanent teeth develop under the primary teeth. Your child’s first baby tooth will grow in between six and twelve months of age. By the time he or she is three years old, all 20 baby teeth will have grown in.

The baby teeth usually stay in place until they are pushed out by permanent teeth. Your child’s baby teeth may begin to loosen and fall out by about age six. A baby tooth can be lost early because of tooth decay or a dental injury. If this occurs, the surrounding teeth may drift into the empty space. The teeth in the opposite jaw may also move up or down to fill in the gap. This can cause the permanent teeth to come in crooked.

Once your child has a loose tooth, they may enjoy wiggling it. This is fine and perfectly encouraged. However, if a tooth is not ready to come out, do not force it. This can damage the tooth root and may cause infection. Most children are excited about losing teeth so that they can meet the tooth fairy. If you are lucky, your child may go to bed early for his or her first interaction with the tooth fairy.