Parents of young children often wonder what to expect as their child grows. When do teeth start coming in? When do baby teeth fall out? How do they establish good dental habits for their child and avoid the need for restorative treatments?
In today’s post, we’ll be providing an overview of what you can expect and the questions you can ask your pediatric dentist.
Baby Teeth: The First Milestone in Children’s Tooth Development
The journey of children’s oral development begins with the eruption of baby teeth.
When your child is around six months old, something exciting happens – their first tooth generally starts poking through the gums! Sometimes a baby’s teeth don’t start erupting till a little later, perhaps closer to a year.
These baby teeth, also known as primary teeth, are essential for helping children learn to chew and speak. They also hold space in the jaw for the permanent teeth that will come later.
During this stage, baby teeth are more than just placeholders. They have a functional role in a child’s development: including speech and properly pronouncing words, chewing, and are involved in building basic social skills.
Caring for these teeth through regular cleaning with a soft-bristled brush and gentle toothpaste is crucial. Even though these teeth will eventually fall out, it’s important to give them attention and care. Any cavities that form, or damage from impacts, can still lead to pain and reduced chewing ability.
As we outline in this post, adult teeth come in on their own timeline, so removing a damaged baby tooth may leave a gap in the child’s mouth for years, which is not ideal.
It’s also a great time to introduce your child to the dentist. Scheduling their first appointment shortly after the first tooth comes in ensures you have all the facts and can monitor your child’s oral development.
The Transition To Permanent (Secondary) Teeth
Around the age of six, children begin the exciting process of losing their baby teeth and replacing them with permanent teeth. This transition is an important phase in children’s tooth development.
Ensuring the permanent teeth come in straight, aligned properly, and are well cared for are important steps toward long term healthy smiles.
Good oral hygiene means healthy gums that are ready for the new permanent teeth. Regular dental visits can field against overcrowding of new permanent teeth or misalignments. Caught early, your dentist can advise on corrective measures that are otherwise more difficult later in your child’s oral development.
Adolescent Dental Care: Laying the Foundation for Adulthood
The teenage years are marked by significant growth and change. Most children have all their permanent teeth at this point, so the focus of dental care shifts to maintaining good hygiene habits.
That may seem obvious, but adolescence is also when kids go through some significant life changes, including who they spend time with and what they do for hobbies.
With more independence, teenagers might consume more sugary drinks and snacks. Encouraging a balanced diet and educating them about the potential harm to their teeth can be instrumental in promoting dental health. Teenagers also have a lot more responsibilities than they did years prior, and that can come at the cost of consistency in brushing and flossing if those habits aren’t reinforced.
Maintaining a healthy smile is important socially during the school years as well. Numerous studies have demonstrated the negative effects on grades and self confidence for children with cavities, for instance, and those effects can be longstanding.
That can be true even if that child had been very good about oral hygiene up until this point.
The Importance of Dental Sealants in Healthy Children’s Teeth
Dental sealants are a fantastic tool in children’s tooth care. These thin, protective coatings are applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth, where cavities often first develop. Sealants work by creating a barrier that prevents food particles and bacteria from settling in the tiny grooves and fissures of the teeth.
Many parents are surprised to learn just how beneficial dental sealants can be in protecting their children’s teeth. They are typically applied once the permanent molars come in, usually around the age of six for the first set of molars and then around the age of twelve for the second set. The application is quick and painless, and the sealants can last for many years depending on care.
In our High Point practice, we always recommend dental sealants as a preventive measure.
Combined with regular dental check-ups, a good oral hygiene routine, and a balanced diet, sealants can play a crucial role in keeping your child’s smile healthy. Feel free to discuss this treatment option with us during your next visit.
Early Orthodontic Evaluations: Shaping the Future of Children’s Tooth Alignment
Orthodontics might seem like a concern for older children or teenagers, but early evaluations can be incredibly beneficial. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have their first orthodontic check-up by age seven, and pediatric dentists will usually advise parents on when this is prudent for their child.
Early intervention might prevent more serious problems from developing, or make treatment at a later age shorter and less complicated. In some cases, the orthodontist will be able to achieve results that may not be possible once the face and jaws have finished growing.
If you’re looking for a new dental home, call our office today to schedule a visit!