The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that every child have a dental home established, along with a dental exam by the age of 1. The reason is for proper education and establishment of a prevention protocol. Studies are showing that early care is leading to improved prevention for children, resulting in less problems with their teeth as they get older.
AGE 0-6 Months: Edentulous Stage
- Wipe down your child’s mouth with a damp cloth after feedings, even when no teeth are present. It is especially important to cleanse their mouths before bedtime.
- Pacifier/Thumb/Finger sucking habits- It is normal for infants to have one of these habits. Sometimes, it can cause damage to teeth and cause jaw discrepancies if these habits persist long term.
Do NOT have your child go to bed with a bottle in his/her mouth
Avoid sharing utensils and drinks with young children due to spread of oral bacteria that can cause cavities.
AGE 6 months-1 Year: Primary teeth or Baby dentition
The first baby tooth normally appears at about 6 months. Some children get teeth early, and some children don’t get their first tooth until 1 year.
Establish a dental home and have your child’s teeth and/or gums examined by one year of age
Per the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), transitioning to a regular cup should occur by age 1. If your child has juice, it should be limited to 4-6 ounces per day, at meal time, drank out of a regular cup
Spacing between teeth is normal and good
Teeth often erupt “crooked” and normally straighten out over time
Brush teeth as soon as they erupt, and brush everywhere along the gum line
AGE 1-5 Years: Primary dentition
Normally, the last baby teeth to erupt are the 2nd molars, which erupt around age 2
Flossing should be implemented when the teeth start to touch, and is very important between the back molars to prevent cavities occurring between the teeth
Dental x-rays help visualize between teeth to assess for cavities, but depending on the child’s cooperation level, may not be recorded until they are 3 or 4 years old
Tooth grinding is very common, and normally no treatment is recommended.
If your child cannot spit, then a smear of fluoridated toothpaste should be used to minimize swallowing. Once your child can spit, a pea sized amount can be used
Age 6-12 Years: Mixed dentition
Loss of the first baby tooth normally occurs around age 6 or 7
Tenderness when chewing is common when teeth are loose
We recommend for the children to wiggle their teeth when they get loose
Sometimes, baby teeth do not get loose on their own, and permanent teeth can start to erupt. If this occurs, contact your dentist to see if extraction is indicated.
- Sealants are recommended when the permanent first molars are erupted
- A panoramic x-ray to assess oral structures and tooth growth and development
Consider mouth guards for children playing sports
Age 13-18: Permanent Dentition
Sealants on 2nd molars are recommended (normally erupt around age 12)
Flossing and starting good habits is crucial at this age, as good (and bad) habits will carry into adulthood
Orthodontic treatment is normally performed in this stage, although some children are seen for orthodontics as early as age 6-7 depending on the orthodontic problem
Diet should be monitored closely, especially consumption of sugary drinks such as Gatorade, energy drinks, pop, and juice
Hormonal changes during puberty can affect oral health, and proper oral hygiene becomes even more crucial
Wisdom teeth should be evaluated throughout this stage for potential extraction to minimize risks and to improve healing time