For a new parent, the arrival of their baby’s first baby tooth is always a special event. It’s something that typically occurs at about 4-6 months of age. When teeth begin to erupt, you’ll typically see two bottom teeth show up first. Then about four front teeth on top will begin to show. Over the months and years to follow, the rest of their primary teeth (or baby teeth) will fill in.
All children are different – especially in how they grow and develop. Your child may have more teeth at twelve months than the child across the street. And that’s perfectly normal. Most baby teeth have pronounced spaces between them. This is also normal. But, all their teeth (the 20 primary teeth) should be in place by the time they are three years of age. It’s at this age that your child should also be able to brush and floss their own teeth. You should still be supervising them when they brush and floss at this young age, as they are still developing the fine motor skills needed to do the job effectively, but it’s important to encourage your child to brush their teeth right alongside you each day. This sets up a daily brushing and flossing habit that will serve them (and their teeth) well for a lifetime.
Although many parents know the value and importance of teaching good oral care habits to their children, many new parents don’t realize that their children’s teeth are constantly changing. And with these changes come certain needed changes in their oral care. In an earlier blog article, we discussed oral care for infants. At that tender age, when those first pearly whites begin to show, the oral care process typically makes use of a damp washcloth. There are a few things to know about caring for baby teeth. The article does a good job of covering the basics. You can read the entirety of that article by clicking here.
Note: The American Dental Association recommends that children begin to see a pediatric dentist by their first birthday. This is good advice.
By the time your child is 6 or 7 years of age, their baby teeth begin to fall out and their permanent teeth begin to fill in. As these permanent teeth are larger than their baby teeth, the gaps between them may begin to shrink (or disappear entirely). As such, the importance of teaching them to floss between their teeth and prevent the build-up of tartar and plaque (that can lead to gum disease) is never greater.
By the time your child reaches 12 or 13 years of age, they should have all of their permanent teeth in place. You should be encouraging your children to brush twice a day and floss once a day. Since your child’s 12-year molars have arrived, you may want to speak to your pediatric dentist about dental sealants to protect them from decay. This will serve them well as they continue to grow and develop good eating and oral care habits.
But it doesn’t stop there! Even after their early teen years, children’s teeth continue to change. Their third molars (aka their wisdom teeth) begin to come in around 17 years of age – perhaps as late as 21 years of age. Wisdom teeth are strange, in that sometimes you get all four and sometimes you don’t. In some cases, they may not come in at all. Fortunately, your dentist should be able to tell you what to expect with wisdom teeth as your child gets older. As with any of their teeth, good oral hygiene and a healthy diet will keep them in top shape.
This article is brought to you by Dr. Cobb, an Olathe, Kansas provider of comprehensive, high- quality pediatric dental care. If you wish to make an appointment for a dental cleaning or evaluation, feel free to contact the office of Dr. David J. Cobb – the kid’s dentist!