If you have questions or concerns about the emergence of your child’s teeth, please contact your pediatric dentist.
The initial growth period for primary (baby) teeth begins in the second trimester of pregnancy (around 16-20 weeks). During this time, it is especially important for expectant mothers to eat a healthy, nutritious diet, since nutrients are needed for bone and soft tissue development.
Though there are some individual differences in the timing of tooth eruption, primary teeth usually begin to emerge when the infant is between six and eight months old. Altogether, a set of twenty primary teeth will emerge by the age of three.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends a first “well-baby” dental visit around the age of twelve months (or six months after the first tooth emerges). This visit acquaints the infant with the dental office, allows the pediatric dentist to monitor development, and provides a great opportunity for parents to ask questions.
Primary teeth preserve space for permanent teeth and guide their later alignment. In addition, primary teeth help with speech production, prevent the tongue from posturing abnormally, and play an important role in the chewing of food. For these reasons, it is critically important to learn how to care for the child’s emerging teeth.
The AAPD recommends a pea-sized amount of ADA approved (non-fluoridated) toothpaste for children under two years old, and the same amount of an ADA approved (fluoridated) toothpaste for children over this age. The toothbrush should be soft-bristled and appropriate for infants.
Flossing an infant’s teeth can be difficult but the process should begin when two adjacent teeth emerge. The pediatric dentist will happily demonstrate good flossing techniques.
Sugars and starches feed oral bacteria, which produce harmful acids and attack tooth enamel. Ensure that the child is eating a balanced diet and work to reduce sugary and starchy snacks.
Children who see parents brushing and flossing are often more likely to follow suit. Explain the importance of good oral care to the child; age-appropriate books often help with this.
The pediatric dentist monitors oral development, provides professional cleanings, applies topical fluoride to the teeth, and coats molars with sealants. Biannual trips to the dental office can help to prevent a wide range of painful conditions later.
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