Children generally lose their baby teeth, or primary teeth, in the order in which they come in. There are 20 baby teeth that fall out and are replaced by 32 adult teeth. Girls usually lose their baby teeth before boys do. The process can take more than two decades to complete.
Order of Losing Teeth
The order in which teeth fall out is the same for most children. The two front bottom teeth fall out first, followed by the two top front teeth. After those, the upper incisors on the side of the front teeth fall out and then the bottom incisors. The upper molars are next, followed by the bottom molars. Then the canine uppers that sit between the incisors and molars fall out, followed by the lower canines. Finally, children lose the second set of lower molars, followed by the upper molars.
How Teeth Are Lost
The process of losing baby teeth typically starts around the age of 6. Once the adult teeth are almost formed in the gums, the pressure of the new teeth dissolves the roots of the baby teeth. The roots serve as the piece that holds the baby teeth inside the gums, and without the roots the teeth fall out. The earlier the baby teeth come in, the earlier they fall out.
Decay and Tooth Loss
Because the enamel on the baby teeth is softer and thinner than that of adult teeth, they can decay very quickly. Sometimes decay is present as soon as the baby teeth come in. Sugary fluids like milk and juice can stick to the baby teeth and cause decay. This commonly happens when babies are put to sleep drinking a bottle. If decay happens and teeth are lost too soon, the teeth next to them can become crooked and overcrowd the adult teeth.
Correlation Between Baby Teeth and Adult Teeth
If the baby teeth are in the right position, the adult teeth usually come in correctly. However, if the baby teeth are too close to each other, the first molars may come in too forward and cause overcrowding of the adult teeth.
When children start losing their baby teeth, this is a good time to reinforce good dental habits. They should start brushing their teeth twice daily and flossing at night. Parents should start decreasing the amount of sweets and sugary liquids that their children consume and begin taking them for regular dental checkups. This is a milestone in children's lives and is a great time to teach them to take pride in their "big kid" teeth.