Caring for your child’s teeth starts early, earlier than you may expect. Your baby is born with all their teeth hidden in the gums. Over time the primary teeth push their way through the gums, and emerge. These teeth can start to show up around six months, although it can vary. By the time your child has their first birthday, they should see a dentist to remove hardened plaque, or tartar. The American Dental Association recommends seeing a dentist six months after the first tooth emerges.
Your child will have all their baby teeth by the time they are three years old. These primary teeth begin falling out by the time they are six, allowing the permanent, or adult teeth to come in. By the time your child is 12-13 they will have all their adult teeth, and no more spaces between them. Spaces are normal in primary teeth because they allow room for the adult teeth to emerge. From 12-24 months, you can use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
You can clean your baby’s gums even before the first tooth erupts. It is advised to wipe down your infant’s gums with a clean, damp cloth after feeding, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends cleaning baby’s teeth after breakfast and before bedtime.
Once your baby’s teeth erupt, brush it with a small, baby toothbrush that has soft bristles and water. It is not advisable to use toothpaste before the baby is two. Never give your baby a bottle of juice or milk to use during naptime or bedtime as this can cause tooth decay and the misalignment of the teeth due to sucking.
Children don’t have the manual dexterity to brush their teeth properly until around age six, so parents usually have to help with this. If you want to encourage your child to build confidence, you can let them brush at first, and then help them finish up.
You won’t need to floss their teeth until they are around two to two and a half years old, when at least two teeth are touching. While your child can typically brush by themselves by the time they are six, you will have to help them with flossing until they are eight to ten.
Your child’s oral health begins at home and builds a healthy foundation! If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation, please call our staff at 505-662-3163.