Your Child’s Teeth & What to Expect as They Grow!
Dental health is important at every age! If you have children, we are happy to be your resource for your questions and to help you maintain a healthy smile for your little ones from the start! Here is what to expect at every age!
Newborn-2 years old
Even before babies have teeth it is important to wipe their gums with a washcloth. This will help remove bacteria from their mouth and adjust to you cleaning in there. Once they have teeth you can begin brushing with a soft tooth brush.
You can expect teeth to erupt around 6 months. The front teeth are the first to come in. The molars begin to appear at 13-18 months.
- Avoid allowing your baby to go to sleep with a bottle. Milk and juice can pool in their mouth, creating acid and sugar overnight that can decay their teeth.
- Encourage drinking through a cup by their first birthday to ensure proper jaw formation.
2-6 years old
At this stage, your child can begin to help with brushing their teeth but you still need to help twice each day. Make it fun so they adjust to this healthy routine! It is also a great time to introduce them to flossing.
Bring your child to 1 or 2 of your dental appointments before scheduling one of their own so they see the dentist can be a fun place to visit. Usually, we are able to complete a child’s first check-up in the office at 2 years of age. The second set of baby molars are usually in by age 3.
- Discourage thumb sucking and pacifier use after age 3. The shape of your child’s mouth and teeth can be affected if this habit continues.
- Use fluoride free toothpaste until your child can spit effectively. We recommend Carifree CTX 3 gel
6-8 years old
This is an exciting time when the first adult teeth start to appear! Emphasizing good oral hygiene is especially important now since we want these new permanent teeth to last a lifetime.
The first adult molars usually come in around age 6 followed by the front teeth. The front baby teeth are the first to go to make room for the permanent teeth.
- Once the first set of adult molars have erupted, it is a good idea have the teeth evaluated for sealants. Sealants “seal” the deep grooves and pits of teeth that are most likely to decay simply because toothbrush bristles can not reach these tiny crevices. It is a quick and painless to place sealants and are a worthwhile preventative measure.
- While your child is gaining their independence it is still a good idea to double check their brushing to make sure those teeth are squeaky clean.
8-12 years old
Now is a great time to have your dentist evaluate your child’s bite, jaw and position of their teeth to determine if orthodontics might benefit them. Often we can do what we call Phase 1 of braces to correct some of the alignment while your child is still growing. This can considerably shorten the amount of time spent in braces down the road.
The premolars start to appear around age 10 followed by the canines or the “eye teeth.”
- If your child is in braces, home care is more important than ever. Make a dental care kit they can bring to school to help encourage brushing after every meal. You may want to include flossers and a mouth rinse to help limit plaque and tartar build up around the wires and brackets.
- Frequent dental visits are also important during this time to ensure the teeth and gumsremain healthy during orthodontic treatment.
12-17 years old
Usually by age 12, the second molars are in and it is time again for sealants. The sealants on the first set of the molars can also be evaluated during this visit to make sure they are holding up and still protecting the teeth properly.
Around age 15 it is usually a good idea to have your child’s wisdom teeth evaluated. If they do not have room for the wisdom teeth, removal is usually recommended to avoid infection and damage to other teeth. It is best if you can plan the surgery before the teeth are causing pain and when it best works in your schedule.
The last of the baby teeth should come out around age 12 once the permanent teeth are in.
- As your child enters teenage years they will probably make some of their own dietary choices. You can encourage them to default to drinking water throughout the course of the day rather than sodas or surgery sports drinks.
- Low starch snacks such as carrots, celery and low-fat cheeses can also help keep plaque build up at bay throughout the day.
More pediatric articles…
More about the author…
Prior to USC, Dr. Ericson attended UCSB and graduated with a degree in Molecular Biology. He has traveled significantly with philanthropic organizations that have established dental clinics in some of the most remote corners of Latin America. Dr. Ericson is a former Los Angeles County Fire Department Ocean Lifeguard EMT for 15 years. Continuing his involvement keeps him current with proper preparation for a variety of emergency medical procedures.