Good Oral Health Starts At An Early Age

February 21, 2014

Your child’s dental development starts extremely early in life. As they age and change, so will the strategies for helping them take care of their teeth.

At 0-2 years, the teething process is already underway. At 0-6 months, the front teeth begin to emerge, often in pairs. The lower teeth usually arrive sooner than the upper ones. At this time it is recommended to give sugary liquids like milk and juice as little exposure as possible to your baby’s gums, as it can cause decay. At 7-12 months, your baby’s incisors (front teeth) start pushing past the gums while the permanent teeth begin to develop underneath. Depending on the child, he or she may experience a range of discomfort as the new teeth emerge. Heavy drooling, swelling, and trouble eating or sleeping are common occurences but if any symptoms persist, check with your pediatrician about teething medication or pain relievers. Finally, at 13-24 months, the molars start to appear as well. At this time it is okay to start brushing with a soft toothbrush (no toothpaste required) and if teeth appear in twos next to each other flossing is also a good thing to do. From 20 months onward, using toothpaste should be taught to your child. Just make sure they spit it out!

At 3-4 years old, the roots of your child’s teeth will begin to disappear and this will make room for the eventual permanent teeth. This age range is also characterized as your child’s first dental visit. It is important you encourage your child to brush his or her teeth twice a day with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste as well as after snacking, especially on more sugary foods. Also, if your child is still sucking on their thumb, now would be a good time to stop since it can lead to problems in the future like crooked teeth.

The golden age of 6 is when your child’s first permanent teeth begin to push their way past the gums. Where they sprout out first can vary but usually they are first seen in the lower front teeth or in the molars. The period when there is a combination of primary (baby) teeth and permanent teeth in the mouth is called “mixed dentition”. Since teeth are especially prone to decay at this time, fluoride supplements or dental sealants are recommended. Be wary of your child if he or she has an active lifestyle because tooth-related injuries are extremely common. Lastly, this is also the time to perhaps mention the existence of the tooth fairy and the tooth and pillow ritual that goes along with that.

From ages 8-12, the rest of your child’s primary teeth fall out and the permanent teeth officially move into position. An orthodontist can solve any possible issues that may arise during this time such as an extra or crooked tooth. As your child becomes slightly more independent, it is a good idea to teach good eating habits and always encourage brushing twice a day.

Kensigton Square Dental is the family dental centre for you. Here we are heavily invested in the ongoing dental development and health of your children.