When my daughter turned 5, she woke me at 6 a.m., announcing she had a loose tooth. From that moment on, her fingers were constantly in her mouth wiggling that tooth in hope she could pull it out. As we all know, kids are not very patient, and she wanted it out the next day. But, the truth is, some experts say it can take up to six months for a tooth to fall out. So, I wanted to make sure she wasn’t going to yank it out just to get a visit from the tooth fairy. Knowing she wouldn’t listen to me, we went to see the dentist to find out what she should be doing and what we could both expect.
First, her dentist took her to the sink to wash her hands. Then he told her to wiggle her tooth, which only moved a little. He said she should keep doing that but not to try to pull out the tooth. If the tooth is yanked out before it’s ready it can be painful and damage the tissue. It can also cause spacing and crowding issues.
So, I was a little nervous about pulling out her tooth. How would I know it was ready to come out? What should I do if it was really loose? I remember my first-grade teacher pulling out our loose teeth for us, but I was not sure I was up to the task. According to my dentist, when a baby tooth is ready, it will come out. There is no need to tie a string to a doorknob or anything like that.
About a month later, my daughter’s tooth was hanging by a thread. I hunted around my bathroom for some gauze and tentatively walked up to my daughter. She must have felt my trepidation because she grabbed the gauze from my hand, turned to the mirror and just pulled it out herself with a huge grin on her face. Apparently, she listened to the dentist more intently than I did and performed her own little extraction fearlessly.
The next day, I took her to the dentist just to make sure everything looked good and the grown-up tooth was coming in as it should. My daughter told the dentist the whole story and explained how she got a little extra from the tooth fairy for her bravery. In case your child is not quite as bold as mine was, here are the steps you need to know to pull out a baby tooth:
Pulling out a baby tooth
1. Wash your hands.
2. Wiggle the tooth with a tissue or some gauze.
3. If it’s ready, the tooth will pop out.
4. Apply some pressure to a clean gauze pad to stop the bleeding.
5. It is normal to see an adult tooth pushing up through the gum.
6. Tooth fairy time- Have your child put their tooth in a little pouch so the “tooth fairy” can easily collect it from under their pillow and leave a special treat.
7. If your child has any pain or you just want to be sure everything looks good, see your dentist the next day.
Medically reviewed by Dr. Natalie Pennington, DDS, April 2019