Children’s teeth begin forming before birth. As early as 4 months, the first primary, or baby, teeth to erupt through the gums are the lower central incisors, followed closely by the upper central incisors. Although all 20 primary teeth usually appear by age 3, the pace and order of their eruption varies.
Oral care should begin soon after baby’s birth. Gums should be cleaned after each feeding. You can begin brushing your child’s teeth as soon as they appear.
Permanent teeth begin appearing around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process continues until approximately age 21. Adults have 28 permanent teeth, or up to 32 including the third molars (or wisdom teeth).
Always clean your infant’s gums after feedings. Wipe gums with a clean, damp cloth or gauze pad. Parents should brush children’s teeth daily with a soft wet toothbrush and no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Schedule a dental visit between 6-12 months of age. Brush at least once daily or as directed by a dentist or physician. Do not swallow – use no more than a pea-sized amount for children under six.
To prevent nursing bottle mouth, if you must give your baby a bottle at nap or bed time, fill it with plain water-not milk, formula or juice.
Your dentist may recommend regular fluoride treatments to strengthen enamel and resist decay. Whenever possible, drink fluoridated water and always use an ADA-accepted fluoridated toothpaste. Dental sealants can help provide additional protection against cavities on the chewing surfaces of teeth. The plastic coating is painted on the grooved chewing surfaces of the back teeth.
Be sure to follow the special home care instructions provided by your dental professional.