About Your Child’s Teeth
When Will My Baby Start Getting Teeth?
A full set of primary teeth begins to grow beneath the gums during the fourth month of
pregnancy. For this reason, a nourishing infant’s teeth, gums, and bones.
Generally, the first teeth to emerge are the central incisors (very front teeth) on the lower
and upper jaws (6-12 months). These (and any other primary teeth) can be cleaned gently
with a soft, clean cloth to reduce the risk of bacterial infection. The central incisors are the
first teeth to be lost, usually between 6 and 7 years of age.
Next, the lateral incisors (immediately adjacent to the central incisors) emerge on the upper
and lower jaws (9-16 months). These teeth are usually lost between 7 and 8 years of age.
First molars, the large flat teeth towards the rear of the mouth then emerge on the upper
and lower jaws (13-19 months). The eruption of molars can be painful. Clean fingers, cool
gauzes, and teething rings are all useful in soothing discomfort and soreness. First molars
are generally lost between 9 and 11 years of age.
Canine (cuspid) teeth then tend to emerge on the upper and lower jaws (16-23 months).
Canine teeth can be found next to the lateral incisors, and are lost during preadolescence
(10-12 years old).
Finally, second molars complete the primary set on the lower and upper jaw (23-33
months). Second molars can be found at the very back of the mouth, and are lost between
the ages of 10 and 12 years old.
Why Is it Important to Care for Baby Teeth?
While it's true that baby teeth are only in the mouth a short period of time, they play a vital role:
- Baby teeth reserve space for their permanent counterparts.
- Give the face its normal appearance.
- Aid in the development of clear speech.
- Help attain good nutrition (missing or decayed teeth make it difficult to chew,
causing children to reject foods).
- Help give a healthy start to the permanent teeth.
- Decaying baby teeth can cause in problems for permanent teeth. Decay and
infection in baby teeth can cause damage to the permanent teeth developing
When Should Kids Start Brushing?
Teeth can last a lifetime if you take proper care of them, and the best
time to start is just as soon as they begin appearing. By establishing
good oral hygiene routines for your children right from the start, you'll
give them the best chance of keeping their teeth healthy — forever.
Tooth decay, the major cause of dental trouble that can eventually
lead to tooth loss, is an infectious disease caused by bacteria. If it
takes hold, it can form a cavity in the enamel and then progress
deeper into the tooth — causing discomfort, difficulty eating and speaking, and a need for
fillings or root canal treatment. The good news is that tooth decay, also called caries, is
The primary route to good dental health is plaque removal. Plaque is the sticky, whitish film
that builds up on teeth in the absence of effective oral hygiene. Decay-causing bacteria
thrive in plaque, where they break down any sugar that lingers in the mouth. In the process,
they produce acid byproducts that erode teeth. This is how a cavity begins.
What are the most effective techniques for plaque removal and decay prevention? That
depends on the age of your child:
Babies can develop a form of tooth decay known as early childhood
caries. This occurs when they are allowed to go to sleep with a bottle
that's filled with anything but water. The sugars in formula, milk
(even breast milk) and juice can pool around the teeth and feed
decay-causing bacteria. When it comes to bedtime soothing, a
pacifier or bottle filled with water is safer for developing teeth — that is, until about age 3.
At that point, sucking habits should be gently discouraged to prevent orthodontic problems
from developing later on.
Brush your baby's first teeth gently with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush, using just a thin
smear of fluoride toothpaste, at least once a day at bedtime. Before a tooth is fully erupted,
you can use a water-soaked gauze pad to clean around the tooth and gums.
Make sure your child has his or her first dental visit by age 1. There, you can learn proper
hygiene techniques; have your youngster examined for signs of early decay; and get a
recommendation for fluoride supplements if needed.
Starting at age 3, you can begin teaching your child to brush with a
children's toothbrush and no more than a pea-sized amount of
fluoride toothpaste. But remember, children will need help with
this important task until about age 6, when they have the fine
motor skills to do an effective job themselves.
It's also extremely important to start encouraging healthy dietary habits at this time. Your
child will have less plaque buildup and decay if you place limits on soda and sugary snack
consumption. As a parent, you can model this behavior to instill it in your child. After all,
monkey see, monkey do! Any sugary treats that are allowed should come at mealtimes, not
between meals. This will ensure your child is not creating favorable conditions for oral
bacteria to grow around the clock.
At your child's regular, twice-yearly dental checkups and cleanings, topical fluoride can be
applied to strengthen tooth enamel and make it more resistant to erosion and decay. If
necessary, dental sealants can be applied to the back teeth (molars) to prevent food
particles and bacteria from building up in the tiny grooves where a toothbrush can't reach.
At this point, your children have the primary responsibility for maintaining their day-to-day
dental health — but you can continue to help them make good dietary and behavioral
choices. These include drinking plenty of water and avoiding soda, sports drinks and energy
drinks, all of which are highly acidic; avoiding tobacco and alcohol; and continuing to visit
the dental office regularly for cleanings and exams. This is particularly important if your teen
wears braces, which can make it more difficult to keep teeth clean.
Remember, it's never too soon to help your child develop good oral hygiene habits that will
last a lifetime.
What’s the Best Toothpaste for My Child?
Toothpaste: It's something most people use every day, but rarely give much thought to —
except, perhaps, when choosing from among the dozens of brands that line the drugstore
shelf. Is there any difference between them? What's toothpaste made of… and does it really
do what it promises on the box? To answer those questions, let's take a closer look inside
The soft, slightly grainy paste that you squeeze on your brush is the latest in a long line of
tooth-cleaning substances whose first recorded use was around the time of the ancient
Egyptians. Those early mixtures had ingredients like crushed bones, pumice and ashes —
but you won't find those any more. Modern toothpastes have evolved into an effective
means of cleaning teeth and preventing decay. Today, most have a similar set of active
Abrasives, which help remove surface deposits and stains from teeth, and make the
mechanical action of brushing more effective. They typically include gentle cleaning and
polishing agents like hydrated silica or alumina, calcium carbonate or dicalcium phosphate.
Detergents, such as sodium lauryl sulfate, which produce the bubbly foam you may notice
when brushing vigorously. They help to break up and dissolve substances that would
normally be hard to wash away, just like they do in the laundry — but with far milder
Fluoride is the vital tooth-protective ingredient in toothpaste. Whether it shows up as
sodium fluoride, stannous fluoride or sodium monofluorophosphate (MFP), fluoride has
been conclusively proven to help strengthen tooth enamel and prevent decay.
Besides their active ingredients, most toothpastes also contain preservatives, binders, and
flavorings without which they would tend to dry out, separate… or taste awful. Some
specialty toothpastes have additional ingredients for therapeutic purposes.
Whitening toothpastes generally contain special abrasives or enzymes designed to help
remove stains on the tooth's surfaces. Whether or not they will work for you depends on
why your teeth aren't white in the first place: If it's an extrinsic (surface) stain, they can be
effective. They probably won't help with intrinsic (internal) discoloration, which may require
a professional whitening treatment.
Toothpastes for sensitive teeth often include ingredients like potassium nitrate or
strontium chloride, which can block sensations of pain. Teeth may become sensitive when
dentin (the material within the tooth, which is normally covered by enamel, or by the gums)
becomes exposed in the mouth. These ingredients can make brushing less painful, but it
may take a few weeks until you really notice their effects.
What's the best way to choose toothpaste? The main thing you should look for is the
American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance on the label. It means that the
toothpaste contains fluoride and that the manufacturer's other claims have been
independently tested and verified.
Once you've chosen your favorite, keep this bit of dental wisdom in mind: It's not the brush
(or the paste) that keeps your mouth healthy. It's the hand that holds it. Don't forget that
regular brushing is one of the best ways to prevent tooth decay and maintain good oral
Does Your Child Grind His or Her Teeth at Night?
Bruxism is the term for grinding or clenching your teeth. It can happen during the day, but
usually happens when you're asleep. Most of the times you don't even know you're doing it.
It can happen to kids who still have all their baby teeth or kids whose permanent teeth are
starting to grow in.
Dentists don't know for sure why some people grind their teeth, but they think it may have
something to do with a person's bite — which means the way the top and bottom teeth fit
Stress also may be behind bruxism. Have you ever worried about a test at school, something
a bully said to you, or moving to a new town? Your body can react to these nervous feelings
and fears in different ways, like grinding or clenching your teeth.
Many kids grind their teeth at some time or another. Most of the time, it doesn't cause any
pain or damage to your teeth. But if you share a room, you could drive your brother or sister
nuts with the sound! In serious cases, nighttime grinding can wear down tooth enamel (the
hard covering on your teeth) and cause jaw problems and pain. But these problems usually
happen to grownups.
What Will the Dentist Do?
You'll probably grow out of the teeth grinding. If it's making your jaw and face sore or giving
you headaches, talk to your dentist, who will examine your teeth to see if the tooth enamel
is worn down or chipped. The dentist also might ask questions about your teeth (for
instance, asking your parents if they hear you grinding your teeth when you're asleep).
Usually, kids don't need to do anything about bruxism. But if it's causing you pain or other
problems, the dentist might give you something called a night guard, which is a piece of
plastic, kind of like a mouth guard that a football player wears. A night guard is worn at
night and is fitted especially for your teeth and mouth to prevent you from grinding your
teeth. Wearing one can now can prevent problems later.
Please call 703-743-2324 for an appointment and visit us at Gainesville Dental Arts in
When Should Children Have Their First Dental Visit?
Visiting the Dentist
The ADA recommends that children see a dentist by their first birthday. At this first visit, the
dentist will explain proper brushing and flossing techniques and do a modified exam while
your baby sits on your lap.
These visits can help find potential problems early and help kids get used to visiting the
dentist so they'll have less fear about going as they get older. Consider taking your child to a
dentist who specializes in treating kids. Pediatric dentists are trained to handle the wide
range of issues associated with kids' dental health. They also know when to refer you to a
different type of specialist, such as an orthodontist to correct an overbite or an oral surgeon
for jaw realignment.
If a child seems to be at risk for cavities or other problems, the dentist may start applying
topical fluoride even before all teeth come in (this also can be done in the pediatrician's
office). Fluoride hardens the tooth enamel, helping to ward off the most common childhood
oral disease — dental cavities (also called dental caries).