You child will begin to show his or first tooth between the ages of 6 and 10 months
Between the ages of 6 months and 10 months, your child will begin to show his or her first baby tooth. If this happens a little sooner or later than that there is usually nothing to worry about, as this is simply an average range, and every child’s developmental rate is unique. As soon as a tooth erupts it must be brushed, as there is now a risk of developing cavities. This is a good time for your child’s first visit to a pediatric dentist.
Never put your child to bed with a bottle of milk or fruit juice. This, in combination with a drier nighttime mouth, will create an environment that leaves the teeth susceptible to Early Childhood Cavities. It is okay to give a bottle in bed if it is filled with plain water. If you are breastfeeding or giving formula in bed, remember to wipe the teeth with a wet cloth to remove milk residue and bacteria away from the teeth. This will decrease the chance of developing cavities.
Brushing before bed is the most important time to brush your baby’s teeth. Ideally, you should brush twice a day, using a non-fluoridated toothpaste.
Early and regular visits to a pediatric dentist allow your child to feel at home in the dental office. This also gives the dental team a chance to instill good oral hygiene habits, which may potentially prevent a cavity from ever forming. If your child happens to develop a cavity, then it is possible to treat it with a small white filling. Leaving the cavity to grow bigger may result in pain and/or infection, and will likely result in the need for more invasive treatment later on.
Children in this age range are learning to develop their fine motor skills such as walking. This is generally accompanied by many falls. A common injury at this age is trauma to the top front teeth. At Dentistry for Children, we educate parents to make their homes as child-friendly as possible, to prevent injuries from occurring. If facial trauma happens, we are very comfortable with treating your child so as to bring back his or her smile.
At age 4, your child’s front permanent teeth, developing within his or her jawbone, have fully hardened. It is now safe to use a child’s toothpaste containing fluoride. A fluoride toothpaste can be used at a younger age only if you are sure that your child is fully spitting all the toothpaste into the sink. If there is any doubt on this matter, limit use to a training (non-fluoridated) toothpaste until 4 years of age.
6 is the age when your child begins to get adult, or permanent, teeth inside the mouth. Usually, the first permanent teeth to appear are the first molars. They will erupt behind the last baby molars, and are responsible for the tightening together of all the back teeth in the mouth. At around 6.5 to 7 years the front baby teeth will become loose and will gradually be replaced by the permanent front teeth. If your child is early or later than this there is usually nothing to worry about, as every child’s developmental rate is a bit different. Preventive sealants are recommended when your child’s molars are fully erupted, at around 7 years of age.
We will continue to reinforce good oral hygiene and dietary habits through these years. Children become more exposed to junk food as they grow older, so teaching them about the effect of unhealthy foods on their teeth is vital in cavity prevention. Regular check-ups, cleanings, and fluoride treatments are recommended every six months.
By the time your child is 13 years old he or she should have lost all of his or her baby teeth. If your child’s teeth are not coming in straight then we may need to consider orthodontic treatment to maximize the potential of their smile and jaw function.
At this stage, all the hard work of regular dental cavity prevention should be paying off. Your child should be educated enough to make smart dietary choices and to independently care for his or her own teeth, and will take ownership in his or her health and continue this for life.
Once all of the permanent teeth have erupted fully, all children who are active in sports should get a professionally-made, customized mouth guard. These mouth guards have a superior fit over “one-size-fits-all” store-bought mouth guards, and work that much better. They are a smart and relatively inexpensive investment to protect all the teeth that you and your child have worked so hard over the years to maintain. If your child needs a mouth guard before all of the baby teeth have been lost, we recommended that he or she use a store bought mouth guard, as these can generally be re-shaped to accommodate changes in the dentition.