Video of O’Fallon, MO dentist Dr. Edward Logan answering the question, “When is it too early to lose a baby tooth?” This video was taken at a MOPS meeting with some active children in the background. If you have difficulty hearing Dr. Logan on the video, a summary of his answer appears below.
Many parents wonder when is too early for their children to lose a baby tooth and whether it even matters since it is going to be replaced by a permanent tooth eventually. While there are general time frames in which baby tooth loss and permanent tooth eruption typically occur, there remains quite a bit of variance in timing of eruption for each individual child. Premature tooth loss due to trauma typically occurs in the front teeth since that part of the mouth and face are more likely to be involved in accidents. Back teeth (also known as posterior teeth) are sometimes lost early due to decay. Due to the small size of baby teeth, decay can spread rapidly resulting in the loss of the tooth.
Whether the tooth loss occurs in the front or the back teeth makes a big difference as to treatment. Front teeth typically maintain adequate space for the eruption of permanent teeth, even when they are lost prematurely. Also, front teeth erupt years earlier than back teeth (often as early as age 6) so there is less time to be concerned about crowding development.
When a posterior tooth is lost, it is important for a dentist to closely monitor when eruption may occur by examining x-rays. Depending on when the permanent teeth will be erupting, a temporary space maintainer may be necessary to preserve spacing and give room for the permanent tooth to erupt.
Due to the variability of tooth eruption times, it is difficult to give an exact age at which it is too early to lose a baby tooth, but close monitoring by a dentist can lead to the best results for your child.