All of a child’s 20 primary (baby) teeth erupt between the ages of 6 months and 3 years. Then the permanent teeth begin to emerge, usually starting at about age 6. Your child probably had his or her first trip to the dentist between 6 and 12 months of age, and now you probably have regular appointments set up. If for some reason your child has not yet seen a dentist, make an appointment for an exam.
Here are some tips on how to teach your child good dental health habits:
- Your child can learn how to brush his or her own teeth at about 3 years of age and should be brushing his or her own teeth, morning and night, by age 4. You should still supervise and check for proper cleaning.
- Give your child a small, soft toothbrush, and apply fluoridated toothpaste in an amount about the size of a small green pea. Encourage your child to watch you and older siblings brush
- Start flossing your child’s teeth as soon as they touch each other. You may find plastic flossing tools
- If your 4-year-old sucks his or her fingers or thumb, help him or her to stop.
- Give your child nutritious foods to maintain healthy gums, develop strong teeth, and avoid tooth
- Discuss your child’s fluoride needs with your dentist.
- Keep your child away from cigarette smoke (secondhand smoke)
After your child’s permanent teeth begin to appear, usually around age 6, talk with your dentist about having dental sealant placed on the molars. Sealants are made of hard plastic and protect the chewing surfaces of the back teeth from decay.
Children play hard, sometimes hard enough to knock out or break a tooth. Learn how to prevent injuries to teeth, and what to do in a dental emergency.