Many people do not realize the importance of primary teeth, which are commonly called baby teeth. Not only are these teeth important for eating, appearance, and speech, but baby teeth guide the permanent teeth into their correct positions. This occurs because the permanent teeth develop under the baby teeth. Your child’s first primary tooth will grow in between six and twelve months of age. By the time they are three years old, all 20 primary teeth will have grown in.
The primary 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. If a baby tooth is lost early, 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 or crowded.
Once your child has a loose tooth, they may enjoy wiggling it around. This is perfectly fine and encouraged. However, if a tooth is not ready to come out, do not force it. Your child will likely be excited about losing teeth so that they can meet the tooth fairy. If you are lucky, he or she may even go to bed early for their first encounter with the tooth fairy.