If a child has a loose tooth, should the parent pull it? Most dentists say no, depending on the situation.
"Usually I would recommend that the parent leave the tooth alone because of the potential damage that can be done," says Alexandra Artisuk, D.D.S., a general dentist who practices in Park Ridge, IL. "If anyone helps the tooth to come out, it should be the child. These teeth usually come out all by themselves and they should come out by themselves. But children usually are aware of loose teeth and they are curious. They tend to help speed the process."
How do they do that? "It's absolutely natural for kids to play with loose teeth with their fingers and even flip them with their tongues," she says.
However, when parents become aware of a loose tooth, many feel it is their duty to get involved in the process.
"If parents really feel they must get involved, they should do it the right way," notes Dr. Artisuk. "I don't think the tooth should be removed at all unless a good tooth is just hanging by the tiniest thread of tissue, or if the tooth is so loose that it's just sitting in the socket but is ready to fall out. Otherwise, complications can occur. These include bleeding, the possibility of infection, and pain."
She says that if the tooth is extremely loose, the parent should use a clean damp gauze pad to firmly tug on the tooth to remove it. If the tooth doesn't come out immediately, just leave it alone.
If there are other factors present, such as swelling or mouth pain, the parent should call the family dentist immediately for further instruction or a consultation.
Concludes Dr. Artisuk, "The point is that loose baby teeth usually take care of themselves, and both parent and child should be patient by allowing time to take its course."
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