Stubborn loose tooth!

Q: My 7-year-old’s loose tooth won’t fall out. Is it safe to do the string-to-door technique?

A: No, I wouldn’t recommend the string-to-door technique to remove a stubborn baby tooth. If your child wants to try to remove a tooth on her own, she could try that. For this method, it is recommended to firmly grasp the loose tooth with a tissue or dry gauze and quickly try to remove it with a twisting motion. If the tooth is ready to come out on its own, removal should be relatively easy. 

The reason it’s best to have your child do it is she can tell how attached the loose tooth still is and how painful the pulling is — and then stop if it doesn’t feel right. 

If you’re trying to pull the tooth, your child may inadvertently flinch and bite down on your fingers or hand. If you use an external method, such as the string-to-door technique, you may be extracting the tooth before it’s fully ready, resulting in more bleeding from the gum than anticipated. 

If self-extraction isn’t working, especially if adult teeth are already erupting, it would be best to seek evaluation by a pediatric dentist. 

Often he or she can easily remove the stubborn baby tooth, which will allow the adult teeth to have enough room to emerge. This may help to minimize the appearance of crooked or crowded teeth later in life, which oftentimes results in the need for orthodontic correction.