Your child’s first teeth will begin coming in around 3-16 sixteen months of age (usually around six months). The two bottom front teeth will be the first to come in and this will be followed by the four upper teeth in four to eight weeks. The timing of the eruption of the first tooth is largely influenced by genetics, so if there is a family history of getting the first tooth late, then your child will probably also get his first tooth late.
Your child will continue to get new teeth until all twenty of the primary(baby) teeth are in at around three years old. Most children will get about four new teeth every four months. Children begin losing their first teeth when they are around 6-7 years old, and this process is complete with the loss of the 2nd molars at about 11-13 years old.
When should I begin cleaning my child’s teeth?
Once your child’s teeth begin erupting, you can begin cleaning them by wiping them with a moist washcloth. As your child gets more teeth, you can begin to use a soft child’s toothbrush. You should use just a pea-size amount of a fluoride toothpaste or a non-fluoride toothpaste until your child is able to spit it out (too much fluoride can stain their teeth). Please consult our dentist or hygienist for a fluoride regimen that suits your child’s needs.
NOTE: It will also be just as important to limit your child’s intake of sugars as soon as their baby teeth begin to come in. Watch the number of snacks and beverages that contain sugar in which you are giving to your child. Frequency to the exposure of sugars & simple carbohydrates are proven factors in he development of dental decay (cavities). Sippee cups & bottles given to your child throughout the day that contain sugary products are a perfect example of “all day sipping” that could be detrimental to your childs teeth. Look for hidden sugars in juices and drinks. Just because a product claims to be “all natural” does not mean that it is also “sugar-free.”
When should I take my child to the dentist?
According to the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the first visit to the dentist should be when the first tooth comes in, usually between six and twelve months of age. It is very important that all children are seen by a dentist at or before their first birthday & continue dental visits every 6 months. Prevention is key.
The American Academy of Pediatrics previously recommended that the first visit to the dentist be at three years of age. Now, because so many children have cavities by the time they start kindergarten, the AAP states that high risk children should see a dentist six months after their first tooth erupts or before they are 12 months old.
In addition to looking for and preventing problems, an early visit to the dentist can help educate you about your child’s oral health and proper hygeine. If your child is not high risk, your Pediatrician should begin oral health evaluations by six months of age.
If you are at risk for getting cavities & have previously had tooth decay(cavities), your child may also be at risk. Kids with special health care needs and children from families of low socioeconomic status, are also considered to be at risk for cavities and should see a dentist at an early age.
If your child has any problems, such as staining of his teeth, crowding or abnormal tooth development, or if he has any risk factors for developing cavities, then he should see a dentist earlier. You may also want to see a dentist if your child has any persistent habits, such as sucking his thumb or using a pacifier as a toddler or grinding his teeth at night (bruxism).
Does my child need fluoride supplements?
In general, yes. All children need supplemental fluoride after they are six months old to help prevent cavities. For most children, they can get this fluoride from the water they drink, if they are in an area where the city water supply is fluoridated and they are drinking tap water.
Sources of water that generally don’t have enough fluoride include well water and filtered or bottled water, although some brands of bottled water (or nursery water) do have fluoride added to it. Also, commercially prepared pre-mixed infant formulas do not contain an adaquate amount of fluoride, so consider using a powder or concentrated formula and mixing it with tap water, supplement your infant with extra tap water, or talk to your Pediatrician about giving fluoride supplements.
If you only use a water filter pitcher or a counter top filter, it likely doesn’t remove the fluoride from the water. Other types of water filters might though. If you have any doubt, check with the filter’s manufacturer.
In general, it is better to have your child drink water that is supplemented with fluoride instead of giving extra fluoride drops or supplements. Too much fluoride can cause fluorosis, which is permanent white to brown discoloration of the enamel of the teeth. It is easier to get fluorosis if you are giving your child fluoride drops and he is still getting fluoride from his diet.
Talk with your Pediatrician or Pediatric Dentist if you think that your child may need fluoride supplements, if you are unsure about your child’s fluoride intake or if you have any questions concerning fluoride.
Does my child need sealants?
Sealants are usually applied to the back teeth to help protect the grooves and pits of these teeth. These pits and grooves can be can be hard to clean and are prone to developing cavities. A sealant is a plastic material that is applied to the teeth, hardens, and provides a barrier against plaque and other harmful substances. Sealants should be applied to the 1st and 2nd permanent molars and appropriate premolars as soon as possible after they erupt (usually after 6 years of age).