Healthy teeth begin with healthy habits. Brushing, flossing, using fluoride, following a healthy diet, and making routine dental visits are key components to good dental hygiene, which is just as important for a child as overall health.
Your child’s baby teeth come in around six months of age, and they don’t completely finish breaking through until around age two. Many caregivers believe because baby teeth are replaced with adult teeth, their care is less important. However, that is not the case. Baby teeth are more susceptible to cavities than adult teeth. We understand that getting a small child to brush is difficult. Start carefully brushing your child’s teeth when the first one comes in. That will help them get used to the routine.
Teeth are at risk for a variety of dental diseases such as gingivitis, cavities, infections, and plaque. When you consider a child’s teeth are already more vulnerable due to lower mineralization density, it makes sense to start protecting them early. Since they will eventually manage the care of their own teeth, brushing, flossing and using appropriate toothpaste should be a part of your child’s daily routine. That way, they will be equipped to properly care for their teeth as they grow.
The importance of oral hygiene during childhood extends past aesthetics. It’s a lesser-known fact that healthy developed baby teeth affect a child’s ability to speak. Prematurely lost or badly formed teeth can contribute to difficulty with pronunciation. Pronunciation and speech development are intrinsically linked. In the most extreme cases, children can develop speech impediments.
Baby teeth stay with a child a long time. It is not until they are around five to seven years old that they begin to lose baby teeth and gain adult teeth. As adult teeth come in, they undergo a process called second maturation. During that period, they are more porous and susceptible to bacterial collections around baby teeth as their enamel is not fully strengthened. Taking care of your child’s baby teeth literally protects their new adult teeth from early damage.
In general, baby teeth start to appear between 4 and 7 months old. The first teeth to come in are usually the 2 bottom front teeth. Most kids have all 20 baby teeth by about 3 years of age.
Children can lose their baby teeth as early as 6 years old and as late as 12 years old. During this process, your child has a mix of teeth as baby ones fall out and adult ones break through. Some kids need orthodontic treatment, such as braces. A full set of adult teeth is 32 teeth. This includes wisdom teeth, which most people do not get until their late teens or early adulthood.