Between the ages of 6 months to 3 years old all of a child's 20 primary teeth (baby teeth) usually break through the gums. Around the age of 6 the permanent teeth begin to emerge. Your child have their first trip to the dentist between 6 and 12 months of age, with regularly scheduled appointments set up. If for some reason your child has not yet seen a dentist, make an appointment for an examination.
There is a great opportunity to teach good dental health habits to your child between the ages of 3 to 6 years old. They are information sponges at this time and developing good oral hygiene routines in your child will help prevent a lifetime of problems in the future.
- Your child can learn how to brush his or her own teeth at about 3 years of age and should be brushing his or her own teeth, morning and night, by age 4.
- Give your child a small, soft toothbrush, and apply fluoridated toothpaste in an amount about the size of a small green pea. A good teaching method is to have your child brush in the morning and you brush at night until your child masters the skill. Teach your child not to swallow the toothpaste.
- Start flossing your child's teeth as soon as they touch each other. Talk with your dentist about the right timing and technique to floss your child's teeth and to teach your child to floss.
- Give your child nutritious foods to maintain healthy gums, develop strong teeth, and avoid tooth decay. These include whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Try to avoid foods that are high in sugar and processed carbohydrates, such as pastries, pasta, and white bread.
- Discuss fluoride with your dentist. If your child needs extra fluoride, your dentist may recommend supplements. Use these only as directed. And keep them out of reach of your child. Too much fluoride can be toxic and can stain a child's teeth.
- Keep your child away from cigarette smoke (Second Hand Smoke). Tobacco smoke may contribute to the development of tooth decay and gum disease.
After your child's permanent teeth begin to appear, talk with your dentist about having dental sealant placed on the molars. Sealants are made of hard plastic and protect the chewing surfaces of the back teeth from decay.
Children play hard, sometimes hard enough to knock out or break a tooth. Learn how to prevent injuries to teeth, and what to do in a dental emergency.