(This medical information was provided by Monica Fisher, M.D., who is a licensed pediatrician.)
You might be curious as to why your seven-year-old has not yet lost any teeth. I did a bit of research that I think you’ll find pretty useful.
Is it normal if a seven-year-old hasn’t lost any teeth yet? It is perfectly normal for a seven-year-old to not yet have lost any teeth. Every child’s permanent teeth emerge at unique rates. Seven-year-olds are on the border of the tooth loss spectrum, but they are still within the bounds of normal tooth loss.
There are plenty of possible explanations for why a seven-year-old hasn’t yet lost any of his or her baby teeth. It’s certainly nothing to be concerned about. In fact, your seven-year-old may merely end up with stronger teeth than his or her peers.
Why Your Seven-Year-Old Hasn’t Lost Any Teeth
Some kids lose all their teeth before the end of middle school. Others enter the first grade without having lost any at all. Both are within the normal bounds of tooth loss.
If your seven-year-old hasn’t yet lost any teeth, it could be because he or she hasn’t grown his or her six-year-old molars yet. “Baby teeth,” or primary teeth, generally stay put until the six-year molars are fully grown.
Some children’s molars grow slowly, but they should come in soon after your child turns six or seven.
Primary teeth serve multiple purposes, one of which is space preservation. If your child loses his or her primary teeth too soon, the underlying permanent teeth might crowd and grow in crooked.
remature loss of the primary teeth can require more extreme dental improvement measures (such as space maintainers), so your seven-year-old might be lucky to not have lost any yet.
Furthermore, if your child loses his or her primary teeth too long before his or her permanent teeth are ready to emerge, the open gums are at risk for infection.
Thus, it’s not a great idea to coax a tooth out of your child’s mouth unless it is clearly ready for removal (i.e., hanging by a thread).
And, of course, primary teeth are essential to chewing solid foods before the permanent teeth emerge. They also prepare the mouth for the development of speech and other functions.
Without primary or permanent teeth, your child will have difficulty eating and communicating. In short: Primary teeth are important, so try not to remove them before they’re ready to fall out naturally.
So long as you have x-ray proof that your child’s permanent teeth are, in fact, below his or her baby teeth, there shouldn’t be a problem. Interestingly enough, the longer it takes for your seven-year-old to lose his or her primary teeth, the longer the enamel on his or her permanent teeth has to harden.
Your seven-year-old’s teeth will likely be extra strong and resilient when they finally come in.
On the other hand, your seven-year-old may already have crowded underlying teeth, making it difficult for any one tooth to push its way to the surface of the gums.
There may even be an extra existing tooth making it difficult for your child’s permanent teeth to make use of the little space in his or her mouth.
In these instances, there are some minor dental procedures that can allow for your child’s permanent teeth to grow in without much trouble. Your child’s dentist might even remove some of your child’s teeth to make way for the permanent teeth.
If your child has crooked or otherwise unusual teeth, his or her dentist probably already knows about the issue and is taking the necessary measures to prepare the teeth for growth.
If you are still concerned about your child’s dental development, ask a dentist to take new x-rays of your child’s mouth at his or her next visit.
This will provide the dentist with a clear picture of exactly what is preventing your seven-year-old’s primary teeth from falling out.
Odds are, everything is perfectly normal, and the enamel on your child’s permanent teeth is simply taking some extra time to harden.
How to Ease Your Child’s Teeth-Loss Anxiety
It might surprise you to know that many children, especially seven-year-olds with an extended attachment to their primary teeth, feel a great deal of angst when enduring the teeth-loss process.
This anxiety shouldn’t be too difficult to alleviate, as there are countless existing success stories (namely you, your friends, your child’s siblings and other relatives, etc.) to calm your child’s fears that, once his or her teeth are gone, they’ll never be back.
However, if your child is especially stressed, there are a few extra measures that should lighten his or her load.
First and foremost: Don’t forget to have the “talk” with your child. No, I don’t mean the sex talk (though that should happen in a timely fashion, too, as you’ll learn in some of the other articles on this website).
I’m referring to the teeth-loss talk, a lesser-known but still monumentally important discussion with your child about the nature of losing one’s “baby teeth” and why it’s nothing to be afraid of.
Some children lose their teeth at the early age of four, but that doesn’t mean you should sit down and worry your three-year-old with the prospect of losing a seemingly fundamental body part just a year down the road.
A four-year-old likely won’t feel the same anxiety towards tooth loss as a seven-year-old that feels more fixed to his or her primary teeth.
Thus, it’s probably wise to discuss teeth loss with your five- or six-year-old if he or she has not yet lost any teeth. Explain that it’s perfectly healthy to lose every one of your teeth, and make sure your child understands that each tooth will be replaced with a bigger and stronger one.
If this little chat doesn’t seem to soothe your child, don’t worry. There are still a few things you can do. Namely, you can utilize incentives.
As we know, children are horribly susceptible to the promise of celebration and reward. That’s why the age-old “Tooth Fairy” is so successful. Therefore, if you paint teeth loss as something to get excited about, your child will be less likely to avoid it altogether.
(While teeth loss is technically a sovereign process that can’t be stopped, your child might attempt to keep his or her loose teeth in his or her mouth, and that’s never safe.)
Treat your child’s teeth loss with the utmost enthusiasm. Take pictures. Plan a small family party or get-together. Or, yes, call upon the Tooth Fairy so your child can ease his or her feelings of loss with a shiny new quarter.
Teeth loss should be an exciting experience for everyone.
Some children experience abnormal amounts of pain when losing their primary teeth. While this is rare, it can cause further teeth-loss anxiety.
Thankfully, this tenderness is relatively easy to reduce: Just as you would with any other injury, treat your child’s pain with cold compresses outside of his or her mouth. This should reduce some swelling and discomfort.
You can also feed your child cold foods to further eliminate inflammation. A chilled diet should beat the soreness in a matter of days, during which time, I doubt your child will complain about eating ice cream for dinner.
Some anti-inflammatory medications like Ibuprofen and Naproxen might also be useful in reducing irritation.
If the physical or emotional pain continue after you feel you’ve taken all the proper steps, consider visiting a pediatrician. Your child’s anxiety or pain might stem from more serious issues that a licensed doctor will be well-equipped to address.
The Timeline of Healthy Tooth Development
“Healthy” or “normal” tooth development is a very fluid concept. There is no particular age to determine whether or not your child is developing his or her dental attributes at a regular rate.
There are, however, some typical milestones that can help you decide just where your child is in terms of dental maturation.
As a fetus, your child develops the basic substance of his or her teeth. The process of dental development begins at about six weeks’ growth. Immediately after the basic tooth is formed, it is cast in a hard tissue that takes four to six months to fully evolve.
The teeth do not emerge from a child’s gums until quite some time after birth. Most children begin to grow their primary teeth at about six months of age.
Most children have twenty primary teeth, though, as I mentioned earlier, in rare instances, some children are born with one or two extra.
The first teeth to emerge are usually the central incisors (the two central teeth) on the bottom of a child’s mouth. They come in when the child is approximately six to ten months old, and tend to shed when he or she is six or seven years of age.
Next are the central incisors on the top of the child’s mouth. These appear at about eight to twelve months, and they shed at the same time as the bottom central incisors.
The next teeth to grow are those directly around the central
Generally, a child grows all of his or her primary teeth by the time he or she is thirty-three months old, and he or she will probably lose them by the age of twelve.
When a Child Will Grow His or Her Permanent Teeth
Once again, there is no exact age when your child should or shouldn’t be
growing his or her permanent teeth. However, there are some general guidelines of typical tooth emergence.
The permanent teeth tend to emerge in the same order in which they fall out. For instance, the central incisors on the bottom of a child’s mouth will probably emerge when a child is six or seven years old.
The central incisors on the top of his or her mouth will likely emerge when he or she is about eight.
The lateral incisors (next to the central incisors) should come in on the bottom when a child is seven or eight. The same teeth on the top of a child’s mouth usually emerge before a child is ten years old.
Most children’s permanent teeth fully emerge before they are thirteen years old, with the exception of the wisdom teeth. The wisdom teeth may not emerge until twenty-one years of age, though they can come in as early as sixteen or seventeen. In some cases, the wisdom teeth never grow at all.
By age twenty-one, all thirty-two permanent teeth should be fully developed.
When your child begins to grow his or her permanent teeth, make sure he or she is aware of how to properly care for them. Teach him or her to thoroughly brush and floss his or her teeth to ensure that these new permanent teeth will stay in great condition and to avoid any unnecessary dental expenses in the future.
Extreme Delays in Teeth Emergence and Loss
According to Jeffery M. Carp, a dental expert at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York, delayed tooth emergence and loss, conditions in which a person’s teeth are “overdue” and have not yet emerged through his or her gums, are relatively common throughout childhood and adolescence.
Carp states that “Timely screening and recognition of [delayed tooth emergence and loss] by clinicians can minimize medical, developmental, functional, and esthetic problems resulting from untreated underlying local and systemic causes.”
Though delayed tooth emergence and loss are often harmless, in extreme cases, they can sometimes indicate serious underlying issues.
Delayed teeth emergence can be genetic. If a parent’s teeth emerged at a later age than average without any obvious or grave underlying dental causes, his or her child’s teeth are likely to do the same. The same can be said of delayed teeth loss.
However, in other cases, a delay in teething with no genetic precursor can signify or be the effect of more serious medical issues.
Premature babies or babies who were born significantly underweight, for instance, tend to grow their primary teeth later than babies born on time and at average weights.
Genetic conditions like amelogenesis imperfecta can also foster slow teeth emergence and loss. Children with amelogenesis imperfecta don’t grow their teeth until much later than their peers, and the teeth that do grow are weak, discolored, and slightly deformed.
Regional odontodysplasia and other nonhereditary dental disorders also effect delays in teeth emergence and loss. Not only are children with regional odontodysplasia prone to late teething, but whatever teeth grow in are sparse.
These children are often left with “phantom teeth,” or gaps in the gums where primary teeth do not emerge.
Delayed teeth emergence can also be due to vitamin deficiencies. A lack of vitamin D and calcium can slow teeth emergence and loss remarkably.
Some seemingly non-dental disorders can also cause delayed teeth emergence and loss. Children with hypothyroidism and/or Down’s syndrome tend to grow and lose their primary teeth at outstandingly gradual rates.
I was personally born with hypothyroidism, and I didn’t start losing my teeth until I was eight years old. My hypothyroidism symptoms aren’t extreme by any means, but some of my same-aged family members with the condition didn’t grow their primary teeth until a year or two after I did.
These are all extreme causes for delayed teeth emergence and loss. They certainly shouldn’t worry you too much if your child is only seven years old.
Nevertheless, if you suspect that your child’s teeth emergence and/or loss are abnormally prolonged, consider visiting a pediatrician to determine the cause and a potential solution.
Is it safe for my child to pull his or her primary teeth out at home? As exciting as wiggly teeth can be, encourage your child to leave his or her loose teeth alone until they fall out naturally. Pulling out a tooth that’s not quite ready to leave can cause excessive bleeding and pain, and it can even put a child at risk for severe infection.
Unless a tooth is hanging helplessly and is obviously ready for removal, try to leave loose teeth alone.
What should I do if my eight-year-old hasn’t lost any teeth yet? Most children should start losing their primary teeth before the age of eight. If your eight-year-old hasn’t lost a single tooth, you might want to consider visiting a dentist or pediatrician to determine what the cause might be.
Eight-year-olds aren’t too terribly far away from the spectrum of normal tooth loss, but it always pays to be vigilant.
Is my five-year-old too young to be losing teeth? Five-year-olds might seem to be too young to be losing teeth, but it’s really not uncommon for children as young as four to begin to lose their primary teeth.
If your five-year-old seems to be losing his or her teeth at an accelerated rate, however, consider visiting a dentist or pediatrician to ensure that there aren’t any underlying medical issues.