My 5 year old is starting to have some teeth become loose. Specifically her lower two front teeth. I just noticed today that one of them is really loose. However, I don't know how loose it should be before pulling it out.

I'm also curious about how to pull them (or should I just let them fall out, which seems bad). My father pulled mine with pliers but I think my wife would freak out if I tried to do that.

So, how loose is lose enough and how to pull them out (technique, tools, etc.).

  • 6
    Had to be posted: penny-arcade.com/comic/2010/12/08
    – deworde
    Apr 12, 2013 at 16:08
  • 2
    Here is the reason why you shouldn't pull the teeth out (taken from wikipedia): "If any primary teeth are shed or lost before permanent teeth are ready to replace them, some posterior teeth may drift forward and cause space to be lost in the mouth.[13] This may cause crowding and/or misplacement once the permanent teeth erupt, which is usually referred to as malocclusion. Orthodontics may be required in such circumstances for an individual to achieve a functioning and esthetic dentition."
    – user6139
    Nov 21, 2013 at 11:35
  • i only ever had 3 pulled - and only because they had to be (didn't come out properly when the adult teeth came in under them)
    – warren
    Jul 8, 2015 at 20:30

6 Answers 6


You should only let the child pull it out themselves (or leave it to fall out when it is ready if the child doesn't want to pull it). If you try to pull it out you may cause pain or injury to the child.

Edit to add: letting it fall out by itself is fine - what would be bad about that? The more ready it is, the less pain and bleeding there will be.

Edited to add:

Primary teeth are physiologically stimulated to "shed" by the secondary teeth growing above them. There is little need to interfere with this normal process. This excludes, of course, cavities, infections, delayed eruption of secondary teeth (in which case, the tooth will not be "wobbly"), etc.

Root resorption is a physiologic event for the primary teeth. ...Root resorption seems to be initiated and regulated by the stellate reticulum and the dental follicle of the underlying permanent tooth via the secretion of stimulatory molecules, i.e. cytokines and transcription factors.

Normally, these teeth are programmed, then, to fall out, and failure of this mechanism is not common. There is no need to pull loose teeth; If the tooth hasn't fallen out, it's because there is still some periodontal ligament that needs resorption.

It is highly unlikely that "baby" incisors need to be removed; there isn't usually a problem with spacing/crowding/impaction at the incisor level. This does become more common a problem with canine teeth and molars.

Physiologic root resorption in primary teeth: molecular and histological events
Guideline on Pediatric Oral Surgery

  • 1
    I've heard that if you wait, the new teeth will start to come in crooked (like through the side of the gum). Now, I don't know if that's true but in this culture (in Asia) they have some anecdotal evidence (incuding some from this year) that this happens.
    – DrJ
    Apr 12, 2013 at 14:21
  • 4
    Ah, OK. If that happens, normally the baby tooth is not wobbly like a normal wobbly tooth. If the adult tooth starts to become visible behind or beside the existing baby tooth which has not fallen out, you should consult a dentist: oralanswers.com/2010/10/… but if the child has a wobbly tooth and the adult teeth are not yet visibly erupted, just leave it and don't worry.
    – Vicky
    Apr 12, 2013 at 14:30
  • 11
    @DrJ, my sister had some teeth come in through the side of the gum because the baby teeth didn't come out, but they never got loose enough to pull except by a dentist. If they're loose enough for a parent to pull, they're loose enough for the permanent teeth to push out naturally. Apr 12, 2013 at 14:31
  • Thanks for everyone's advice, the tooth came out last night. The key was my child tongue-poking it continually until, voila, out it came.
    – DrJ
    Apr 14, 2013 at 2:32
  • While this is a highly voted, and the accepted answer, I would prefer to see some references to back up the claims. user6139's comment on the question, incidentally, makes for a better-informed answer.
    – user11394
    Feb 9, 2015 at 2:57

I have always encouraged my kids to wiggle their teeth as much as they can once they become loose. And once they get really loose, they have come up with various ways to speed them on their way, from chewing toffee or apples, through to pliers or string.

This is as a direct result of my eldest accidentally swallowing one in his sleep and finding its passage uncomfortable :-/

I have offered my services with the pliers if necessary, but they'd rather do it themselves.

Being excited about the 50p they'll get from the tooth fairy probably helps as well...

  • My eldest accidentily swallowed it while eating (a local variant of) a hotdog.
    – SQB
    Feb 13, 2014 at 14:04

If you are able to wiggle it back and forth pretty far it's good to go. however, let your kid work on it. I usually waited and pushed it back and forth to provide tearing in the gums from the tooth root until an edge became unhooked. Then I would get floss and tie a loop hooking it onto the exposed edge and then either have my dad or myself pull it out suddenly or unexpectedly. My dad would count to three but always pull it on one or two.


Make them eat apples. I found this to be the best way to make my teeth fall out (especially the front ones). Good strong apples are both good for health and powerful enough to cause a lose tooth to get lodged in them. If a tooth is not loose enough to be pulled out by an apple then it shouldn't be pulled at all. Additionally losing a tooth while eating an apple is completely painless and most of the time you do not even realize that the tooth came out until much later. So the kids will not be even terrified.

So do not rush and just give them an apple a day :P


I think that you should just eat something hard, like and apple or carrots mabye. It might seem painful, but really, its not! Or, while brushing her teeth, it can come out. It did with me. And one time, my tooth was so loose that when I was eating a banana, I accidentally swallowed it!

So, don't leave it because it will make her teeth grow to the side or the back of her baby tooth. It happened to me, but it moved and went back in place. Hope it feels painless.

  • Hello and welcome to the site! Thanks for your contribution. I have a small favour to ask for future posts: This is no chatroom, where we type "full speed ahead and punctuation be d..d", but a place where answers are kept for future reference. So please use proper grammar and spelling (to the best of your abilities, we all make errors, at least I do), because it makes the text easier to read for others. I just edited your post, but you may do so as well by using the "edit" button under your post.
    – Stephie
    Feb 8, 2015 at 20:28

Coming from a child, you should probably let them pull it out themselves. Because they're the only ones that feel how loose it is.

If you leave them to fall out it MAY end up hurting the child if she's eating or something like that. And also it is very common for an adult tooth to grow behind a baby one IF the baby one is still in.

  • You as a parent can definitely feel how loose it is - by wiggling it - so I'm not sure I agree with this answer.
    – Rory Alsop
    May 12, 2014 at 17:43

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .