May 22, 2015

What You Should Know About Loose Teeth and Daycare

By the time you take your children to daycare, they’ve probably passed many of their major milestones. They’ve gotten their full sets of primary teeth, said their first words, and taken their first steps. However, one milestone may occur during those hours at the childcare center—the first loose tooth.

Children start losing their primary teeth around age six, and their teeth continue falling out until about age 13. Their teeth could fall out at any time, and children often view this transition with excitement or fear. Loose teeth also require a little effort and pain to work free. All these feelings together may make your children disruptive or distraught at daycare.

To make this milestone pass as smoothly and painlessly as possible, familiarize yourself with the information below.

How to Care for a Child’s Loose Tooth

Even if your children feel excited about their loose teeth, they might not have the same enthusiasm when anyone tries to touch their mouths. After all, their teeth might feel tender or even painful. However, even if their teeth cause discomfort, your children still need to practice dedicated dental hygiene. Take the following steps to ensure your children’s mouths stay healthy.

1. Brush the area gently.
Many children press pretty hard when they brush their teeth. If your children do the same, take this opportunity to teach them about using repetition, rather than pressure, to keep their teeth clean. The softer force doesn’t just feel more comfortable on tender teeth—it also promotes improved dental health in the future. Too much pressure wears away enamel and gums, leading to a higher cavity risk.

2. Floss daily.
Flossing may feel even more uncomfortable than brushing, but your children still need to do it. This important part of dental hygiene also helps the tooth fall out faster. It works the tissue and roots looser, so your children won’t have to wait as long for the discomfort to end.

3. Wiggle the tooth.
Children unconsciously play with their loose teeth using their tongues. Encourage them to do so purposefully as well. They may continue to use their tongues, or they can use their hands. However, if they use their hands, they should wash beforehand. They don’t want to put germy fingers in their mouths—especially since loose teeth expose more gum tissue to infections.

If your children want to wiggle their teeth at daycare, they should use the same principles. Encourage them to use their tongues where possible. And remind them to ask their instructors for permission to wash their hands before they wiggle their teeth with their fingers.

4. Eat apples and other crunchy, hard foods.
An apple’s firm peel and crunchy interior help loose teeth come even looser. Apples may even pull your children’s primary teeth for them. But even if they don’t, their grainy texture will help your children keep their teeth clean. Put an apple in your children’s sack lunches every day as they go to childcare.

5. Pull the loose tooth if necessary.
Most dentists recommend that you leave the tooth alone and let it fall out on its own. If you pull it prematurely, the gum could bleed and infection could set in.

However, if the tooth causes much pain or discomfort, or if it disturbs your children because it hangs by a thread, you can pull it. Use these steps:
Wash your hands.
Grip the tooth with clean gauze or tissue.
Twist it out.
Rinse the mouth and use gauze to staunch any bleeding.

What Children Should Do If They Lose Teeth at Daycare

As mentioned above, loose teeth can fall out at any time, especially if your children crunch into apples every day. They may lose their teeth at daycare. If that happens, you need to tell your children how to handle the situation. They will likely want to save their teeth so they can show you and get money from the tooth fairy. They can preserve their teeth and keep their classroom sanitary with the tips below.

1. Put teeth in an envelope or tissue.
Your children may want to show their teeth to their friends so they can feel grown up. However, mouths have a lot of bacteria, and teeth accumulate even more bacteria when they leave the mouth, so they create an unsanitary environment. Your children should wrap their teeth in an envelope, tissue, napkin, or piece of gauze. Once wrapped, their teeth should go into a pocket or backpack and left there.

2. Wash up.
As soon as your children put their teeth away, they need to wash their hands. Again, even a recently brushed mouth contains bacteria, and that bacteria will travel from the tooth to your children’s hands. And children’s hands like to explore everything. But if your children wash, they keep the classroom sanitary.

3. Don’t panic if teeth go missing.
Children swallow or misplace their teeth all the time. They feel disappointed if they misplace their teeth, but they often feel frightened if they swallow them. Reassure your children beforehand so they don’t panic or become distraught.

Loose teeth represent an important milestone. Use the tips above to help your children feel calm and comfortable if their teeth fall out during daycare.