wikiHow to Loosen a Tooth

Two Parts:Loosening Baby TeethKnowing When to Loosen a Tooth

A loose baby tooth can be very exciting for a young child — particularly if he believes in the Tooth Fairy; however, sometimes a loose tooth needs a little help making its final exit from the mouth so permanent teeth can grow in. This is usually harmless and there are some safe strategies that can be done at home to facilitate it. For adults, loose teeth typically represent significant gum disease (periodontitis) and removing them should be left to a dentist, as adult teeth have longer and stronger roots that may be hard to remove, even if they seem very loose.

Part 1
Loosening Baby Teeth

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    Wait until there's no pain. Before encouraging your child to wiggle her loose teeth with her tongue, it's important to wait until the wiggling causes virtually no pain or discomfort.[1] The less discomfort your child feels, the more likely she will be keen on wiggling her loose teeth to encourage them to fall out. Also, feeling no pain is a good sign that teeth are ready to be replaced by adult teeth.
    • If the tooth is ready to fall out naturally, the process should be virtually painless.[2] If there is pain, it likely means the tooth is still attached via root and nerve tissue.
    • A slightly loose tooth generally takes about two to three months to get looser and fall out without intervention. These suggestions are meant to safely reduce that time frame.
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    Have the child wiggle the tooth with his tongue. If your child is at least four years old and reports that his tooth is loose, but not caused by any trauma to the mouth, then ask him to wiggle it with his tongue. Wiggling the tooth with the tongue is a gentle way of loosening it from the gum tissue (gingiva) surrounding it, making it easier to fall out or remove.[3] Demonstrate to your child how to gently roll his tongue back and forth over the loose tooth. Caution him about accidentally swallowing his tooth once it falls out — there's a slight risk it may lead to choking.
    • If the tooth is ready to come out, there should be no blood seeping from the socket. If there is, it could mean an injury or infection, so don't force it out.
    • Make wiggling the tooth more fun and easy for your child by distracting them with movies or stories.
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    Loosen the tooth with food. Another natural method of encouraging loose baby teeth to fall out is giving your child foods that she must bite into. Apples, pears, corn on the cob and bagels are all great choices because they are soft enough to allow teeth to readily sink into, but hard enough to provide enough resistance to further loosen the teeth.[4] Avoid hard and sugary items such as candied apples, hard candy or chocolate bars — they are unhealthy for kids and the sugar encourages dental caries (cavities).
    • Tell your child to avoid swallowing or chewing on any newly fallen out teeth. Swallowing increases the risk of choking and chewing on it increases the risk of damaging or breaking another tooth.
    • Once the tooth comes out, put it in some sanitizing solution (salt water, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, iodine solution, colloidal silver) for an hour before putting it under the pillow for the Tooth Fairy.
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    Wiggle the tooth with your finger. If your child is unable or unwilling to wiggle his tooth with his tongue (maybe he's too nervous or squeamish), then offer to help by using your fingers. Wash your fingers with soap and/or antiseptic wipes first, so you don't introduce bacteria into your child's mouth. Ask your child to open his mouth as wide as he can. Gently flick the tooth back and forth to loosen it up. If it's very loose, take a clean tissue for better grip and try to slightly rotate the tooth and pull it — if the root is fully dissolved, it should come out of its socket easily, without any significant pain or blood.[5]
    • After you sanitize your hands, dry them thoroughly and put on sterile gloves if you have them.
    • If there is a little blood, soak it up with the tissue and put some gentle pressure on the socket for about 30 seconds to stop any additional bleeding.
    • Never force a baby tooth or twist it aggressively. If the root is only half dissolved, it could break and become infected, which is painful.
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    Use a pair of tweezers with gauze. If your fingers are too big for your child's small mouth, then use a pair of small metal tweezers instead. Wash your hands and wear sterile gloves if you have them. Cut a small square of sterile gauze or tissue and cover the loose tooth before touching it with some sanitized metal tweezers — teeth can be sensitive to metal. With your child's mouth wide open, gently grip the gauze-covered tooth with the tweezers and rock it back and forth without much twisting for a few minutes. The tweezers will likely be more precise and allow a better grip compared to your fingers.
    • Metal tweezers can be quickly sanitized with alcohol wipes.
    • If the tooth is resistant to come out, then it's okay to wait a few days and try again.[6]
    • Leave the gauze in the empty socket for a few minutes to prevent bleeding. Ask your child to hold it with her clean fingers.
    • Once the tooth is removed, give your child some warm salt water to swish in her mouth. It will help soothe the gums and prevent infection.
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    See a dentist if you experience complications. The vast majority of loose baby teeth fall out on their own or with very little encouragement.[7] There shouldn't be any significant pain or bleeding. If there is, then you are either being a little too premature or dealing with some sort of dental infection. Contact your dentist immediately if the tooth pain if persistent and you can't control the bleeding.
    • Signs of a tooth or gum infection include: localized pain, red and swollen gums, foul odor, mild fever and loss of appetite. Never try to remove a tooth if you notice any of these symptoms.
    • If your child has not lost any teeth by the age of 7 years, then talk to your dentist about it.[8] The dentist will likely suggest taking x-rays to see what's going on.
    • If your child has experienced any trauma to the mouth, see your dentist first. Signs of trauma include pain (crying), blood, swollen lips that are purplish, broken teeth and cut gums.

Part 2
Knowing When to Loosen a Tooth

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    Learn about baby teeth. Children normally have 20 "baby teeth," which typically erupt in the mouth by the age of three years.[9] These baby teeth are temporary and start to fall out by the age of five or six years, and then they are eventually replaced by permanent adult teeth. The entire process of transitioning from baby teeth to adult teeth usually lasts six or more years from start to finish. As such, be cautious of removing or encouraging your child to remove a loose tooth if he is younger than five years or older than 12.
    • Removing a loose tooth too early can negatively affect the way a child eats and digests food. Removing a loose tooth from an older child runs the risk of losing a permanent tooth. If your child is over 12, see your dentist for x-rays to see check if the tooth is an adult or baby tooth.
    • The teeth that come in first (lower front teeth) are the first to fall out.[10] Then the top front teeth are next, and finally, the back molars are the last to become loose and fall out.
    • Some kids lose their first tooth as early as age four years, whereas others may be as old as eight years. In general, the earlier they erupt, the earlier they get loose and fall out.
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    Understand why baby teeth loosen. Under normal circumstances, a baby tooth doesn't get loose or wobbly until its roots dissolve, which clears the way for the permanent adult tooth to come in.[11] Then, as the permanent tooth continues to erupt, it simply pushes the baby tooth up and out of its socket; however, it's possible for a child to get a loose tooth from an accident while playing or from dental disease. In this case, it's not a good idea to encourage the tooth to fall out prematurely because it may cause future spacing problems with the permanent teeth.
    • If your child loses teeth before the age of four years old, you should see a pediatric dentist to make sure there is no underlying disease, such as pericoronitis.
    • If your child says she has a wobbly tooth, ask why that is. The answer may be related to mouth trauma from an accident. If that's the case, don't encourage the tooth to fall out
    • If you child does lose a tooth prematurely from mouth trauma or disease, then your dentist will likely put a plastic placeholder or spacer in place of the baby tooth until the permanent tooth erupts in order to prevent spacing problems.
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    Explain the process to your child. Depending on your family's customs and beliefs, your child may be very anxious to lose his baby teeth. It's obviously a universal right of passage that occurs in childhood that signifies getting older and more mature, but many children correlate losing teeth with getting money or some other gift from the "Tooth Fairy." This is fine, but make sure to explain why and how teeth fall out to your child and make sure he is not trying to prematurely remove his teeth because of a desperate want for money to buy some toy or candy.
    • Although most kids are excited to feel a loose tooth and have it fall out, some are worried it will hurt or bleed and self-conscious about how they will look without their teeth. As such, make sure to reassure your child if he is a worrier.
    • If you help a loose tooth fall out of your child's mouth, make sure to get permission first. Most kids will readily accept help, especially if they think they'll get something from the Tooth Fairy, but others may be quite scared and worried.


  • Don’t forcefully move any baby tooth. Wait until it's a little wobbly before trying to encourage it to fall out.
  • Always wash your hands or have your child wash her hands when wiggling a loose tooth. Hands can have a lot of bacteria on them that could infect the wound once the tooth is removed.
  • Consider numbing the gums around the wobbly tooth with some oral numbing gel or ointment before you try to extract the tooth.
  • Once the tooth falls out, give your child some guidelines for the next day or so. They should avoid eating any hard, hot or really cold foods for at least 24 hours.
  • Encouraging good dental hygiene with daily brushing and flossing is another way that loose teeth may be encouraged to fall out.
  • Encourage a positive relationship between your child and his dentist. Many adults fear the dentist due to bad experiences in their childhood, but dentistry has evolved quite a bit since those "old school" tooth removal methods. Your child needs to trust his dentist so he will get proper dental care for the rest of his life.


  • Never use the "tying the tooth to a door and slamming it" technique seen in movies and cartoons. This can be very painful and damaging to teeth. It's also not very precise.
  • If you are an adult dealing with your own loose tooth, go see a dentist rather than trying to deal with it yourself.

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Categories: Teeth and Mouth