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The Tooth Fairy's Secrets, Revealed!

By Krista Elliott

As I write this, I'm waiting for my oldest to fall asleep so that I can slip into his room. Why? Because the Tooth Fairy is visiting him tonight. 

Whether your family embraces or shuns this bit of fantasy, losing baby teeth is an inevitable rite of passage. With the simple loss of a tooth, your child's look can be utterly transformed from angelic preschooler to grade-school scamp. 

But how much do we even understand about losing our baby teeth? And what to do if things don't go smoothly? 

How We Lose Baby Teeth

Did you know that you had your permanent teeth before you were even born? Well, the buds of them, anyway. They start developing at about the 20-week mark of fetal development, but continue to mature and develop during early childhood. The permanent teeth are present in the skull, waiting patiently behind the baby teeth. 

As the child's jaw grows, the first permanent teeth (the 6-year molars) erupt. After that, the rest of the permanent teeth start to push forward. The roots of the baby teeth become reabsorbed into the jaw, making those teeth loose. The first teeth lost are usually the first baby teeth your child had: The lower incisors. Once the baby tooth falls out, the permanent tooth, like a royal heir, rises up to take its rightful place. Most of the adult teeth will be in place by about age 11 or 12, with the exception of the wisdom teeth, which may (or may not — they're capricious) show up in late adolescence or even early adulthood. 

What Can Go Wrong

Normally, the process goes really smoothly, but occasionally, issues can arise. If you have any concerns about the progression of your child's tooth development, don't hesitate to consult with your dentist. 

So, what are some of these issues? 

Crowding — If a baby tooth falls out before the permanent tooth is ready to erupt, the remaining baby teeth will take up the available space. This results in crowding when the permanent tooth does make an appearance.

"Shark Teeth" — In some cases, the permanent tooth erupts before the baby tooth has fallen out, leading to two rows of teeth. If the baby tooth is not removed shortly thereafter, it can affect the final positioning of the permanent tooth. 

Late Tooth Loss — Some children don't lose any primary teeth until age 8 or later. There may be nothing wrong, but it's worth asking your dentist to perform an examination.

Losing baby teeth is a normal rite of passage, and gives us parents the entertainment of seeing those cute, gappy grins. And now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to tuck a few coins under a small boy's pillow. 

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic.

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