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  • Writer's pictureDr. Malone

Your Child’s Dental Milestones

During the first two years of your child’s life, their mouth will go through important milestones and many changes. Being aware of the key moments of your child’s dental development will help you handle problems as they arise. We want to provide you the parents and caregivers a timeline of the biggest dental milestones for children to help you feel more confident along their journey of growth & development.

Getting Ready for the First Teeth

When babies are between 0-4 months old, their mouths will start preparing for their first teeth. While it may not seem like there’s anything you need to do at this point, it is a good idea to start using a damp cloth or a soft rubber finger toothbrush to wipe your baby’s gums. Clean your baby’s gums at least twice a day just like you brush your own teeth. This will get your child in the habit of regular brushing and ensure their mouth is clean and ready for incoming teeth. 

Teething: What to Expect 

Once your child reaches 4-6 months of age, you can expect the teething process to begin. Continue wiping their gums twice a day, but keep in mind that their mouth and incoming teeth will be sensitive so using a damp cloth is a great way to make cleaning more comfortable. This repetitive hygiene practice helps prevent the formation of plaque. As soon as your baby’s teeth start coming in, it’s a good idea to book their first dentist appointment.

First Dentist Visit

We recommend that by the time your child is one year old, they should have already been to their first dentist appointment. From there, we recommend visits every six months for cleanings and routine checkups. These are especially important for little ones so their pediatric dentist can catch any issues that may arise as their teeth come in. The first couple of visits usually involve cleaning the child's teeth with a toothbrush, discussing healthy hygiene habits and an exam with the dentist. 

Around this same time and age, you should start trying a soft toothbrush and teaching your child how to brush and spit out toothpaste. Until they learn to spit toothpaste, use a fluoride-free version or it is ok to just brush with water if your child has sensitivity to tastes.

Introducing Flossing

Once you begin to see teeth touching together at the sides, it’s time to introduce regular flossing to your little one. This may happen as early as around a year old. The best time to floss (for your child and you!) is after each meal. Starting this healthy habit young can prevent dental problems in the future. 

Say Goodbye to Pacifiers

By the age of 2 years old, parents should work on breaking their children of pacifiers and thumb-sucking habits. They can both lead to oral health problems like changing the shape of the mouth and disrupting how teeth come in. Parents should also have a consistent routine helping their toddlers brush and floss at least twice a day or after each meal. This age is also great for introducing fluoride toothpaste and continuing to work on spitting after brushing. 

Brushing & Flossing On Their Own (With Supervision)

When children are between 3-6 years old, they’ll want to become more independent and you should let them—with a bit of supervision. Let your child handle their brushing and flossing, but keep a close eye on them to ensure they get to hard-to-reach spots so their teeth are properly cleaned. It may be necessary to touch up the brushing after they are done. Another big milestone at 3-6 years is your child’s first dental x-ray to determine the overall look and health of their teeth.  

Losing Baby Teeth

Most children lose their baby teeth from ages 6-12. They may fall out in the same order they came in, or it may be random. The front four teeth usually fall out first, followed by the teeth in the back of the mouth (the canines and the molars). By the time your child is around 12-13 years old, they’ll likely have a full set of 28 adult teeth, with the last adult teeth—the four wisdom teeth molars—coming in anywhere between the ages of 15 and 22.  

When to See the Orthodontist 

At every visit, the dentist will check the position of your child's teeth. If any concerns arise with spacing or teeth position, the dentist may recommend setting up a consultation visit with the orthodontist. 

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