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Milk Teeth: What Happens If They Are Lost Too Soon

Milk Teeth: What Happens If They Are Lost Too Soon

It is a momentous event when a child cuts their first tooth, and this should be shortly joined by other, brand new and beautifully white milk teeth.

Milk Teeth Eruption and Shedding Order

By age three, most children will have twenty milk teeth, and they will begin to lose them from the age of six onwards. Milk teeth are usually lost or ‘shed’ in the same order in which they emerged. A child will normally lose their two front lower incisors first, followed by the two upper front teeth. Typically a baby tooth will not work loose until the adult tooth begins pushing up beneath it. This is the ideal situation, but sometimes milk teeth will be lost too early, either due to trauma or tooth decay.  Occasionally teeth will have been missing at birth and certain diseases can cause early tooth loss.

Is Early Tooth Loss a Problem?

Yes, it can be, as if a tooth is lost well before the adult tooth is due to erupt then the remaining milk teeth may begin to shift out of position, moving towards the space left behind and creating problems with overcrowding when the adult tooth finally tries to come through.

What Is the Solution?

If your child loses their milk teeth too soon then Dr. Marina Krepkh, or another of our pediatric dentists at the Kids Dentistry Center, may suggest using a space maintainer to keep the gap open until the adult tooth is ready to come through. There are several different types of space maintainers that can be used as they can be made from stainless steel or plastic and may be fixed or removable. The choice can depend on the age of the child, as fixed retainers tend to be better for younger children who are less able to care for them, while older children are more likely to be capable of caring for a removable retainer. Options will also depend on whether the missing tooth is visible and needs to be replaced with a temporary false tooth, or if it is at the back and it is merely a case of keeping the space open.

Common Types of Space Maintainers

One of the most common types of space maintainers is called a band and loop maintainer and is fixed in place. A stainless steel wire loop is attached to an orthodontic loop that fits around an adjacent tooth. The wire will touch the other adjacent tooth, helping to hold open this position. This will enable the adult tooth to come through without any issues with overcrowding.

If teeth are missing both sides of the mouth in the lower jaw, then a wire called a lingual arch will be fitted. This uses bands which are wrapped around a tooth on either side of the mouth, just behind the missing teeth. The wire runs around the inside of the teeth, just touching them, maintaining the open spaces on both sides of the mouth.

If a child is missing several teeth then we may want to make them a partial denture instead of a space maintainer. This might be necessary if a child has congenitally missing teeth and the denture will be used into adulthood until the teeth can be permanently replaced with dental implants or a bridge.


Kids Best Dentist Brooklyn NYC
Dr. Marina Krepkh
7708 4th Avenue 1st floor
Brooklyn, NY 11209 (Bay Ridge)
(718) 491-5300

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Tuesday 11am – 5pm
Wednesday 2pm-7pm
Thursday 3pm-7pm
Friday 10am-4pm

Once a month on Saturday, call the office 718-491-5300 to find out which Saturday.