Often when parents bring their child to the dentist’s office, especially if it is the child’s first visit, the parents are more scared and nervous than their little one is. Parents are often not informed enough about some very important facts regarding their child’s oral health, which is why we wrote this post for our blog. Let’s begin….
Your child’s primary teeth (also called baby teeth) usually come in between 6 and 9 months of age, although each child is different. The first teeth to break through are the top and bottom front teeth, then canines and finally molars. By the time the child is 2 years old, usually all 20 primary teeth have come in.
bottom central incisors (usually after six months of age, but sometimes after two months)
top central incisors (after 9 months of age)
top lateral incisors (between 10 and 12 months)
bottom lateral incisors (after 12 months of age)
top first molars (after 14 months of age)
bottom first molars (after 16 months of age)
top and bottom canines (after 2 years of age)
As soon as the first baby teeth erupt, oral care should begin. You can begin by using a soft washcloth or fingertip toothbrush to gently remove any build up. By caring for your baby’s teeth from the very beginning, you can prevent baby bottle tooth decay, which is a very common problem that most often occurs in the front teeth, but can affect all teeth as well. If your child is thirsty during the night, we recommend you offer only water.
When your baby turns one, you can start using a wet toothbrush without any toothpaste and continue using only water until your child turns three. This will allow the child to get used to a toothbrush and will create good oral hygiene habits.
Parents should assist with tooth-brushing until the child is at least six years old, when they can begin to brush on their own. But parents should continue to supervise the process until the child is nine years old and should be able to independently care for their teeth.
Teeth should be brushed at least twice a day, and it is advised that after children brush their teeth in the evening, nothing else be eaten or drunk except for water. Plaque, cavities and other dental problems usually affect the back teeth. Teach your child to begin brushing the back teeth and move toward the front.
In order to prevent the spreading of cavities, your child should begin flossing as soon as their baby teeth touch. It is advised that parents floss their children’s teeth.
Build-up and dark stains most commonly found on the lower front baby teeth are usually not cavities but plaque build-up which can be cleaned with special instruments at the dentist’s office.
The first permanent teeth come in at around 6-7 years of age and are most often the first molars (6), then the incisors erupt, and the last teeth to come in are the third molars (wisdom teeth). During the period of “mixed dentition”, when children have both primary and permanent teeth, it is important that the primary teeth are not pulled out too early because they hold the correct spacing for permanent teeth, ensuring physiological exchange of dentition.
After the first permanent teeth erupt, it is important to apply sealants to the teeth. Sealants are applied in a simple and quick procedure where a protective coating adheres to the chewing surface of the back teeth. This prevents bacteria and plaque from forming in the deep pits and crevices of the teeth. Sealants help prevent the formation of cavities, but only if proper oral hygiene is performed, meaning if children do not thoroughly brush their teeth, cavities can form regardless of the sealants.
Apart from dental sealants, fluoride treatments are also used to prevent tooth decay. A gel with highly increased levels of fluoride is applied to the teeth, strengthening the tooth enamel.
Finally, it is important to stress that regular visits to the dentist are crucial for oral health. The first visit can be scheduled at two years old, helping the child get used to the dentist’s office, and if primary teeth are regularly checked, a pain-free and simple treatment is guaranteed if necessary while the cavity is still small. A friendly and warm approach will help children ease their fear of the dentist.
And most importantly, set a good example, children learn from watching you!