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Q: How and why do our teeth fall out?

— Jill Blair, 5, Shorewood Elementary School

A: It’s normal and natural for baby teeth to fall out. Usually children start to get loose teeth between ages 5 and 7.

The new permanent tooth begins eating at the root of the baby tooth. That baby tooth becomes loose, and then the permanent tooth eventually pushes it out and erupts into its place.

When the permanent tooth starts to eat away at the root of the baby tooth, it can take about six months before that entire root is resorbed and the new tooth has moved up into its place. When a tooth is really loose, the only thing holding it in is the gum tissue around it. That’s why it might bleed a little when a baby tooth falls out.

Young children have pretty small mouths, and the teeth in those mouths are small. You need much bigger teeth to sustain you as an adult, so everyone gets a second set.

A lot of people think they don’t need to take care of baby teeth as much because a second set of teeth will eventually come in. But a lot of these baby teeth are with people until age 12 or 13 even. It’s important to take care of these baby teeth even though you’ll be getting new teeth later.

Some people have a congenital issue where permanent teeth don’t develop, and they have baby teeth in adult life.

Sometimes unfortunately adult teeth are lost, and this can be due to a variety of reasons like trauma or gum disease. If you lose bone around that tooth or experience decay, it can become loose and fall out or may need to be removed.

If we lose a permanent tooth, there is no replacement for it other than something that a dentist can provide, such as an implant.

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Dr. Laura Tills is a dentist at River Place Dental in Monona.

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