Losing baby teeth is a natural part of growing up, but it doesn't always go the way that it should. If your child has lost a baby tooth, but you were surprised to discover that only a part of it seems to have come out, you might be wondering if this situation spells trouble. Here's what you should know about this particular issue.
Why This Usually Happens
In most cases, a fragment of baby tooth coming out isn't a problem. To start, the roots of baby teeth are almost never present when they fall out. This is because the body starts absorbing the interior of the tooth and its roots, which is the beginning of the tooth becoming loose. By the time it's ready to fall out, these parts of the tooth have usually deteriorated.
As a result, sometimes a tooth can fracture, and only part of it comes out. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Fractures tend to occur because the overall structure of the tooth weakens as its interior is absorbed. If you can see the remaining piece of tooth sticking out of the gums, chances are it will follow suit in a few days.
Sign of a Problem
Unfortunately, not every situation where only a portion of the tooth comes out is harmless. In some cases, a tooth may be absorbed incorrectly, or a tooth can be damaged, or it can be forcibly removed before it's ready.
In any of these scenarios, the problem is that if a portion of the tooth is left behind under the gumline, it can cause an infection. The interior of the tooth contains living tissue, which can begin to break down and decay inside the gums. This can understandably lead to a serious problem and infection, which can only be treated by a dentist. In any case, this is one more reason why you should never forcibly extract a child's loose tooth, even if it's been loose for a long time.
What to Do
If you're concerned about your child's well-being, you can set up an appointment with a pediatric dentist. Through a visual exam and dental X-rays, they can confirm whether or not the entire tooth was properly released, or if there's still a remnant remaining beneath the surface.
If you're not sure if your child needs the help, it's always better to err on the side of caution. However, if you want to try and wait and see, keep an eye out for signs of infection. Bleeding gums, pain while brushing or eating, and swelling of the face or jaw may occur. If you see any of these signs, get to a pediatric dentist right away for treatment. A pediatric dental specialist can provide more information.