The term “mixed dentition” refers to the period when children transition from baby teeth to adult teeth. When it comes to mixed dentition, know this: baby teeth will never win. If you worry about your child’s permanent teeth arriving before their baby teeth loosen, worry no more– mixed dentition is at work.
When Teeth Arrive
For babies, teeth usually erupt as follows:
Primary teeth (front teeth): 8-13 months
Molars and canines: 16-24 months
Adult teeth arrive thusly:
1st molars and anterior teeth: 6-8 years
Premolars and canines: 9-12 years
2nd molars: 12-13 years
3rd molars (wisdom teeth): 17-21 years
The arrival of adult teeth is fairly predictable: uppers come in on the outside of the baby teeth (closest to the lip), and lowers on the inside of the primary teeth (closest to the tongue). When adult teeth erupt, the roots of the baby teeth gradually break down and absorb into the circulation, which is known as resorbing. This process loosens the baby teeth until eventually it’s tooth fairy time.
When resorbing happens slowly, or not at all, it delays the loosening of the baby tooth. If a tooth doesn’t loosen on its own in 4-6 weeks, talk to your dentist about removal. This is the best way to ensure that the adult teeth erupt in their natural path.
Help Loose Teeth Along
Before you make that call, try having your child eat apples, carrots, or ice cream bars. All three can accelerate the loosening/resorbing process. You can also encourage your child to play with their loose tooth, but make sure that they aren’t too forceful: it can be damaging to remove a tooth before it’s ready to come out.
Don’t Stop Brushing
When mixed dentition is in full swing, meaning that both baby and adult teeth are present, food can get trapped in the mouth more easily. Decay-causing bacteria can accumulate, and decay on adult teeth in young patients is not good news. Regular brushing is particularly important during this period.
Do you have any crazy stories about how you lost your baby teeth? Drop me a line and let me know what happened. It probably wasn’t as crazy as the rocket kid…