Your Baby’s Dental Health Timeline
Young parents typically have many questions surrounding their child’s dental health, such as when they can expect teeth to grow in and how soon they should plan to start caring for teeth. Here is a brief outline of how you can expect your child’s dental health to progress over the coming years, along with some tips on how you can help ensure proper care for your child’s teeth.
Children’s teeth generally don’t erupt until age 6 to 12 months, so your focus at this age should be on proper gum care and managing teething pain. Be sure to gently wipe your baby’s gums with a soft gauze pad after every feeding. It also helps to massage your child’s gums at this age because it can help prepare them for future dental care. If your baby experiences teething pain, you can use a cool teething ring to help manage pain.
This is the age when most children develop their first teeth. You’ll typically see the lower two front teeth erupt first. Be sure to schedule your child’s first appointment with a pediatric dentist before your child reaches 12 months of age. Because decay can happen as soon as the teeth erupt, it’s important to start caring your your child’s teeth at this point. Use a soft cloth and water after every meal to clean your baby’s teeth. If your child goes to bed with a bottle or walks around with a sippy cup, be sure that it contains only water. Other liquids should be confined to meal times.
You can expect your child to have a full set of baby teeth by around age 3. As your child’s teeth continue to come in, keep scheduling regular visits with a pediatric dentist. In addition, start using a soft bristle brush and water to clean your baby’s teeth. You can begin using toothpaste once your child reaches 2 years of age and can spit it out. Once your child’s teeth begin to fit closely together, you can start flossing their teeth.
3 Years and Older
As your child grows, it’s important to keep scheduling regular dental visits and practice regular dental care. You will need to care for your child’s teeth until they are old enough to care for them independently. Children typically cannot care for their own teeth until they are 7 or 8 years old, so even as they transition to brushing and flossing on their own, you should supervise them to ensure they are caring for their teeth properly. In addition to ensuring proper dental care, be sure to start weaning your child off of sippy cups as soon as they are able to manipulate a small cup. This will help prevent jaw misalignment problems caused by prolonged use of sippy cups.
Overarching all of this advice, remember that you pediatric dentist can help you at every step of the way. Be sure to get in contact with a pediatric dentist early on and to schedule regular visits for the most effective dental care for your child.