Growing up I remember the excitement I felt when I lost a tooth. The anticipation would start to build once I felt the tooth becoming loose. I would announce loudly and proudly to anyone who would listen, “I have a loose tooth!”. Once the tooth came out (hopefully during school hours so I could make a show of it), I would begin planning the things I would buy from the riches the tooth fairy would bring. Video games, castles, the sky was the limit. I would surely become rich off of my top notch tooth. Granted, the tooth fairy would usually leave only a single dollar, but that was beside the point.

Losing a baby tooth can spark a range of emotions from children. Some, like me, get excited. Others are terrified. One thing is true for all, losing a baby tooth is a rite of passage that every child will eventually experience.

It is important to note that each child is different and may not follow the exact timeline listed below. Generally, this is normal. Some children may begin losing teeth as early as age four while others may begin losing teeth much later. If you have any concerns a trip to the dentist will help you troubleshoot any issues as well as calm your nerves.

Six to Seven Years Old

So when does this process begin? While the exact timeline may vary between individuals, studies have shown a general guide for when baby teeth begin to fall out. Most children will lose their first tooth at the average age of six to seven years old. This process usually begins with the lower central incisors and is shortly followed by the loss of the upper central incisors. These are the child’s front teeth and are therefore the most noticeable. Walk into any first grade classroom and you will likely see many children proudly grinning with missing front teeth.

Seven to Eight Years Old

The next round of teeth to go include the lateral incisors. This generally happens between the ages of seven and eight. The lateral incisors are positioned right next to the front teeth and are also fairly noticeable.

Nine to Twelve Years Old

Somewhere between the ages of nine and twelve children usually lose their upper first molars and their lower first molars. These teeth are located near the back of the mouth and are therefore not very noticeable, even when smiling. The lower cuspids also loosen and fall out. The last stage of baby tooth loss includes the loss of the upper cuspid and the loss of the upper and lower primary molars. The missing molars will not likely be noticed. The cuspids, alternately, are somewhat observable when the child smiles.

Once this process is complete, usually by age 13, the child should have lost all of his/her baby teeth and have all of his/her permanent teeth in place. At some point, generally between the ages of 17 and 21 wisdom teeth will erupt and will generally need to be professionally extracted from the mouth.

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