Losing a Tooth Background Information for Teachers and Parents

Grade Levels: K-3

This page contains information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about the mouth, gums, jaw and losing teeth!  The information is designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. movie Losing a Tooth. It explains the type of content covered in the movie, provides ideas for how teachers and parents can develop related understandings, and suggests how other BrainPOP Jr. resources can be used to scaffold and extend student learning.

Losing teeth and growing new ones are a natural part of growing up. Most kids lose their first tooth at around six years old, but kids begin to lose their teeth at different ages. On average, girls lose their teeth before boys. Your children should not feel anxious if they haven’t lost their first tooth yet or if they are losing their teeth faster or slower than other kids. Explain that people’s bodies grow and change at different speeds.

Teeth are made from one of the hardest substances in the human body and are the first part of the digestive system. Teeth grind and cut up food and the tongue mixes it with saliva to prepare food for digestion. Teeth also help you pronounce words. (Have children try saying the word teeth without moving their tongue against their teeth.) Encourage your children to think about how they use their teeth.

People develop two sets of teeth in their lifetime. The first set is called primary teeth, or baby teeth. There are twenty primary teeth. The second set is called permanent teeth, or adult teeth. There are thirty-two adult teeth, including wisdom teeth. The first primary tooth grows in when children are around six months old, a process referred to as “teething.” As children’s bodies grow, their jawbones grow as well, requiring bigger permanent teeth.

A primary tooth becomes loose when the body starts to absorb some of the root, the part of the tooth that anchors it to the gum line, or when the permanent tooth begins to grow in and push the primary tooth out. Eventually the primary tooth falls out and the permanent tooth grows in its place. Permanent teeth are bigger than primary teeth and have longer roots. It is important for you and your child to leave a loose tooth alone and let it fall out on its own. If a tooth is yanked out too early, the tooth can be severed from the root, which can remain in the jaw. This root can get infected and cause problems. Premature removal of teeth can also cause bleeding gums and pain in the area. In addition, the primary tooth guides the permanent tooth into place, so if the baby tooth is yanked early, the adult tooth may grow in crooked. However, if children are going to give a loose tooth a gentle wiggle, encourage them to wash their hands first. We recommend watching the Washing Hands movie together as a review.

It is important for your children to take care of their teeth by brushing, flossing, visiting a dentist regularly, and staying away from sweets. We recommend watching the Food Pyramid movie together as a review. Teeth are an important part of our bodies and require care and maintenance.