Dental Milestones That You Should Know

As a parent, it’s always so exciting to experience those ‘firsts’ with your child, like their first words, first steps, and first smiles. There are so many moments to keep track of, a few can fall through the cracks when adjusting to a new life as a parent to a little one. Throughout your baby’s childhood, there’s going to be a handful of critical dental milestones to keep in mind and how your child’s relationship with oral hygiene and their dentist changes over time.

We want to give you a guide on how to navigate these milestones and changes as your little one grows when it comes to oral health and new teeth.

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Baby’s First Tooth (6-12 months):

There’s a wide variation of when your child will get their first tooth, but on average they’ll cut their first tooth between 6 months and 1 year of age.

However, it’s not abnormal or unheard of for babies to remain toothless until 18 months or even cut teeth at the newborn stage. As soon as that first tooth erupts, you can start taking care of their tooth or teeth using toothpaste using a rice size amount until age 3.

As for dental visits, it’s important to establish a dental home by the age of 1. After that point, regular visits every 6 months are crucial to monitor their progression.

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While you’re waiting for your child to start growing teeth, we’d like to recommend establishing a routine to get them used to oral hygiene routines. This can be done by feeding your baby and then using a clean damp cloth or gauze to wipe their gums after. Also, keeping their bottle away from them at naptime and bedtime will help prevent future cavities and tooth decay.

Drinking bottles with milk or formula before sleep and not cleaning their teeth allows sugars to stay on their teeth and eat away at their enamel while they sleep.

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Baby’s Full Set of Baby Teeth:

By age 3, your child should have a full set of baby teeth. It will include 20 teeth total, with 6 molars, 4 central incisors, and 4 canines. Dental visits during these young ages include your child sitting on a parent’s lap while we try and examine their teeth briefly and apply fluoride to prevent future cavities.

An oral hygiene routine should consist of your child’s head in your lap while you brush their teeth in small circles for 60-90 seconds using an age-appropriate toothbrush and toothpaste. At this age, avoiding more than 4 ounces of fruit juice daily is recommended.

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If a routine hasn’t previously been established and your child doesn’t want to let you brush, try to use a phone or TV as a distraction if needed. It’ll get better over time, and maybe consider making it a two-parent activity for a while until your child adjusts and doesn’t wiggle so much.

Having their head on your lap can help give you better visibility of their teeth and allow you control of their hands while you complete the process.

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If your child doesn’t fight you and actually shows interest in brushing their own teeth. We recommend allowing them to do so – but with no toothpaste. Once they’re satisfied, brush their teeth with a small amount of toothpaste afterward.

Most children can’t brush their teeth without supervision until around the age of 6, roughly the same age they learn to tie their own shoes.

Baby’s First Loose Tooth:

The age range that a child experiences their first loose tooth is a bit broad being between 5-7.On average you can expect your child to lose their first tooth around age 6. By this age, your child can start brushing their teeth independently with mild supervision.

Dental visits will consist of your child becoming a little more independent at our office and we’ll begin utilizing digital x-rays to keep an eye on your child’s development of adult teeth and any potential cavities. We’re more than happy to answer any questions they have about teeth cleanings and our process, that way your child will feel more at ease in our dental chair.

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Dental floss is the easiest way to further prevent cavities, so adding floss to your nighttime routine is recommended. Some children are still struggling with breaking thumb-sucking and pacifier habits between the ages of 3-6, but the sooner they’re broken, the better. After turning 3, any of those habits can permanently change their tooth and jaw positioning.

A strategy we recommend is having your child choose between their thumb or joining in on whatever family activity you’re doing. They’ll listen to you when you ask them to quit sucking their thumb, but they need to choose to end their habit on their own, so giving them that choice allows them the freedom to make that choice on their own accord.

Baby’s First Adult Tooth

Between the ages of 7-12, your child will be steadily losing baby teeth and growing in their adult teeth. This is the time to really build those good oral hygiene habits since they only get one set of adult teeth.

Dental visits during these ages will consist of evaluating the eruption and development of new permanent teeth and also jaw development. These are the visits where we’ll determine if early orthodontic treatment is needed, or if their teeth development is doing just fine.

Is it completely fine for your child to wiggle their loose baby teeth, as we don’t want their adult teeth to start growing in and for their baby teeth to still be in the way.

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The easiest way to prevent cavities during this age range is to limit sugary drinks. Brushing and flossing daily, and maybe a fluoride mouthwash. Usually, between the ages of 7-8, we have a good idea of how your child’s adult teeth will line up and whether or not they may need orthodontic treatment in the future.

By the age of 12-13

By the age of 12-13, your child should have most if not all of their adult teeth. At this age, you’ll go see your dentist a few times a year for checkups and make sure they’re developing good hygiene habits (which include brushing and flossing daily). 

At these visits, we’ll evaluate the positioning of their adult teeth and jaw development to see if they may need a set of braces or not to keep up the good development.

Later in their teen years, they may or may not develop wisdom teeth. These 4 teeth are the last teeth to develop, also known as third molars (they appear in the back corners of your mouth. They’re called wisdom teeth because they appear when a child is a little ‘wiser’ or older. They usually develop between the ages of 16-21, and sometimes they don’t grow in the way they need to without impacting their existing adult teeth.

We’ll keep an eye on their x-rays to monitor this development and whether or not they’ll need to be removed when they’re a little older. It’s common to have wisdom teeth extracted between the ages of 18-24 if necessary. Some grow in perfectly fine for some teens and they can keep their wisdom teeth. It’s possible to only grow one set, or some don’t obtain them at all. 

In the case that your child needs them removed due to them growing in at an angle and threatening the health and positions of the existing teeth, it will require a small and quick procedure.

The future

Once your child grows into an adult and has hit all of these wonderful dental milestones, they can still stay with us into adulthood! We’re here for you and your family from the beginning until the end, as we’re your Mount Visa dental home.

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14313 NE 20th Ave, Suite A101
Vancouver, WA 98686