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Your Child's Dental Health Timeline

Birth to 24 Months

Teething: Between the ages of 4 to 6 months, your child may begin teething. This typically causes babies a lot of discomfort, and they may become irritable. Early signs of teething include increased saliva production; drooling, biting or sucking; and often decreased appetite and a mild fever. The first teeth typically begin to erupt around 6 months, but may take up to a year or longer. The middle bottom teeth usually appear first, followed by the top four upper teeth.

Dentist: Your baby’s first dentist trip should be as early as the first erupting tooth, but no later than the first birthday. Many pediatricians recommend a pediatric dentist who specializes in caring for children at this early age and their teeth. Your dentist may then recommend regular check ups every six months, or at least once each year.

Age 1 to 3

Brushing: Brushing should begin with the first tooth using a special infant or small-headed toothbrush. Toothpaste is not necessary usually until age 2 or 3 with supervision, but may vary depending on the fluoride levels in your water. Consult with your dentist to be sure.

Flossing: Flossing should begin as soon as two teeth touch together. By the age of 3, your child should have his or her full first set of 20 teeth and should be receiving regular brushing and flossing after meals, or at least twice a day.

Age 5 to 10

Not long after your child has developed all their baby teeth, they will soon begin losing them. Most children start losing teeth around age 5 or 6. This can be a very exciting time for young children, and many see it as a rite of passage.

Once the baby teeth fall out, the permanent set are usually quick to follow. It is essential to continue brushing and flossing your child’s teeth throughout this process to keep the gums and teeth healthy and to visit the dentist regularly.

Age 10 and up

Molars: Between the ages of 10 and 12, children usually begin losing their first molars and receiving their permanent ones. By 13, they should have all their permanent teeth.

Wisdom Teeth: Between the ages of 17 and 21, some people will develop wisdom teeth, or third molars. Not everyone receives a full set, but many who do will not have enough room in their mouth and will need them removed. Your dentist will let you know if and when you will need these removed.

Orthodontia: It is very common for young children to develop orthodontic problems such as crooked teeth, over bites and under bites. Problems like these are best corrected with orthodontia treatments early in life, but can also help adults. Ask your dentist or orthodontist for more information.

Proper dental care and habits at an early age is important to future oral health and overall health. Ensure your family is covered with a comprehensive dental insurance plan.

To learn more about the life of a tooth, visit the Academy of General Dentistry’s visual timeline.

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