By Grace Clark
Your child will experience rapid changes in their mouth during the first 24-months of their life. It’s time for you to be your toddler’s tooth fairy by helping them to strengthen their teeth for the world of solid food. It’s necessary for you to keep their health in check as well and schedule dental appointments once every 6 months to prevent cavities. All the stages of dental progress require complete attention and care.
Here is the timeline of your child’s dental growth which will make you feel more confident about your child’s dental future:
- During Pregnancy – Taking good care of your dental health begins way before your baby is born. Mothers who are expecting should get a dental examination and if you are planning to get pregnant, it is wise to consult a dentist before conception. At about 6 weeks of age, the basic substance of teeth forms in the fetus. Oral hygiene can easily be neglected but oral hygiene issues can affect the overall health of the mother and baby.
- 0-4 Months Old - During this time, the hard tissues that surrounds the teeth is formed. It is important to start using a damp cloth or gauze to wipe your baby’s gums at this age. Using soft rubber finger brushes can be helpful as well. This is a great time to implement and start practicing an oral hygiene routine with your child. Make sure you wipe your child’s gums at least twice a day for two or three second intervals. This will keep your baby’s mouth ready for incoming teeth. Avoid habituating new teeth to sugar which is not necessary during this time.
- 4-6 Months Old – Your child starts teething by this time. Make sure you continue with the process of wiping your child’s gums. The incoming teeth may be a little sensitive to the practice but if you stick to the routine of oral hygiene it will prove beneficial and restrict plaque from building up as it can form even on the youngest of teeth. This is the right time to book your child’s first dental appointment. It is important for you to avoid introducing unnecessary sugar and food with high citric content into your child’s diet at a very young age as it can lead to early enamel loss and plaque development.
- 1 Year Old – It is the best time for you to introduce your child to a soft bristle toothbrush. Before your child learns how to brush and spit out toothpaste, it is better to use a fluoride free toothpaste. Floss regularly once you see your child’s teeth touching sides. Healthy oral hygiene routines like regular flossing can prevent dental problems in future.
- 2-3 Years Old – It is important for parents to know that pacifiers can cause dental complications. If you have habituated your child to a pacifier then it could lead to a misshaping of his/her mouth. Thumb sucking is yet another problem which parents notice in children at this age. Schedule a routine to assisting your child with brushing their teeth, twice a day though brushing after every meal is even better. It is time to introduce fluoride toothpaste now. By the age of 3, your children will have a set of 20 teeth and teaching them to floss becomes necessary at this point. Make sure you visit a pediatric dentist twice a year.
- 3-6 Years Old – By this age independence in oral hygiene can be permitted but supervision is necessary because your children might miss out on cleaning areas of their mouths which are hard to reach for them. By now your dentist would have known your child’s teeth via x-ray to understand the overall look and health of your child.
- Eruption of Permanent Teeth - At this age your child will be more independent and would have established his/her own dental routine by now. Your dentist may recommend going to an orthodontist if he/she finds issues with the development of your child’s dental structure. As this is the time when the transition from baby teeth to adult teeth takes place it is important to make sure that the permanent teeth erupt in their correct places.
There are a few things parents overlook when it comes to taking care of their child’s teeth. They are:
- Letting them brush alone
- Procrastinating the first dental exam
- Letting babies fall asleep with bottles or pacifiers
- Introducing them to a lot of unnecessary sugar and sweets
- Keeping cavity on low priority
General dentistry also specializes in dental work for children as the services provided range from cleanings, dental sealants to wide ranging and complex facilities like root canals and fillings. Following this timeline for your child’s dental health ensures that you are taking the right decisions for your child’s development. Following this timeline for your child’s dental health ensures that you are taking the right decisions for your child’s development.
A dental marketer at Michael G. Long DDS, Fresno, CA and a believer in holistic health, Grace lives by the rule that health and happiness go hand in hand. She writes on various dental topics focusing on healthy living and holistic health. When she’s not working or blogging, she enjoys spending her time with her family and volunteering at the local youth centers where she educates children about the importance of health and fitness.