Tugging Teeth: The Best Practices for Pulling Baby Teeth

Children go through their first set of teeth by age 12 on average. Losing teeth is typically an easy & exciting process for children, but sometimes it can be hard to know just how & when to pull a loose tooth.

When Teeth Are Ready

Around 6 years old, children start to lose their first tooth. The tooth may take a little time to become loose enough to remove. At first, it may only move slightly in its socket & too much movement can cause discomfort when this is the case. After a few days, however, the tooth should loosen further until only a small resistance from a few bits of tissue remains. Your child should be able to feel the difference & remove the tooth themselves.

This is often an easy process. Children may use their tongue or hands to remove it. It can come out in hard food like apples or sometimes just fall out, at times swallowed by the unsuspecting child. In those cases, while they may be sad that the Tooth Fairy won’t visit, there’s no medical concern for a swallowed baby tooth.

Stubborn Teeth

When a baby tooth isn’t getting quite loose enough, many opt for the “pull the Band-Aid off fast” approach. However, it’s important to exercise a reasonable amount of caution here. There are generations of adults who have grown up on the string tied to a door method, where the other end of the string is attached to the tooth. This isn’t a great idea, as slamming a door shut may be too forceful. It’s harder to control—especially if the door is heavy—& the string being pulled out violently may get caught around other teeth. 

The best course of action is the one so many of us struggle with: patience. After all, those teeth are worth money. In most cases teeth become loose quickly, but if they don’t, just give it time. Once the tooth has become loose enough, firmly holding the tooth while twisting away from the socket should require little effort.


In some cases, baby teeth may not come loose at all. This could be because there simply isn’t an adult tooth underneath to push it loose as it comes in. This is called hypodontia, & it affects a low percentage of the population. When adult teeth are missing, the baby tooth may be retained for a period of time to serve as a placeholder, depending on the health of the tooth & other factors.

The baby tooth must come out at some point, though. A retainer is commonly made after an extraction, which in these cases will need to be performed by a dentist. The retainer is often worn to adulthood until implants or other more permanent solutions are available. Implants in children are more rare as their lifespan can be shortened from sports & a growing jawbone. 

If you have any questions about your child’s baby teeth, consult your dentist. They’ll explain in detail specific steps best for your child.






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