Helpful Pediatric Dentistry Tips!

A Timeline for Your Child’s Dental Milestones

by Dr. Steve Whittemore, D.D.S. | Published November 14, 2022

During the first two years of your child’s life, their mouth will go through many changes and important milestones. As parents, you’re responsible for helping your child—and their teeth—through the process. Knowing the key moments of your child’s dental development will help you tackle problems as they happen. Here is a timeline of the biggest dental milestones for children to help you feel more confident along the journey. 

Preparing for Incoming Teeth

When babies are between 0-4 months old, their mouths will prepare for incoming teeth. And while it may not seem like there’s much to do for dental hygiene at this point, it is a good idea to start using a damp cloth or a soft rubber finger toothbrush to wipe your baby’s gums. 

Clean your baby’s gums at least twice a day just like you brush your own teeth. This will get your child in the habit of regular brushing and ensure their mouth is clean and ready for incoming teeth. 

When to Expect Teething

Once your child reaches 4-6 months of age, you can expect them to start teething. Continue wiping their gums twice a day, but keep in mind that their incoming teeth and mouth will be sensitive. This continued oral hygiene is beneficial to prevent the formation of plaque.  

As soon as your baby’s teeth start coming in, it’s a good idea to get their first dentist appointment on the calendar.  

Their First Dentist Visit

By the time your child is one year old, they should have already been to their first dentist appointment. From there, they’ll continue bi-annual visits for cleanings and routine checkups. These are especially important for little ones so their pediatric dentist can catch any issues that may arise as their teeth come in. 

Around this same time and age, you should start trying a soft bristle toothbrush and teaching your child how to brush and spit out toothpaste. Until they learn to spit toothpaste, use a fluoride-free version or it may be ok to just brush with water. 

Introducing Flossing

Once you begin to see teeth touching together at the sides, it’s time to introduce regular flossing to your little one. This will also happen around a year old. The best time to floss (for your child and you!) is after each meal. Starting this healthy habit young can prevent dental problems in the future. 

Say Goodbye to Pacifiers

By the age of 2 years old, parents should work on breaking pacifiers and thumb-sucking habits. They can both lead to oral health problems like misshaping of the mouth and how teeth come in. 

Parents should also have a consistent routine helping their toddlers brush and floss at least twice a day or after each meal. This age is also great for introducing fluoride toothpaste and continuing to work on spitting after brushing. 

Brushing & Flossing On Their Own (With Supervision)

When children are between 3-6 years old, they’ll want to become more independent and you should let them—with a bit of supervision. Let your child handle their brushing and flossing, but keep a close eye on them to ensure they get to hard-to-reach spots so their teeth are properly cleaned. It may be necessary to touch up the brushing after they are done.

Another big milestone at 3-6 years is your child’s first dental x-ray to determine the overall look and health of their teeth. 

Time to Play Tooth Fairy 

Most children lose their baby teeth from ages 6-12. They may fall out in the same order they came in, or it may be random. The front four teeth usually fall out first, followed by the teeth in the back of the mouth (the canines and the molars).

By the time your child is around 12-13 years old, they’ll likely have a full set of 28 adult teeth, with the last adult teeth—the four wisdom teeth molars—coming in anywhere between the ages of 15 and 22.  

Consider Calling the Orthodontist 

When your child starts losing their baby teeth and their adult teeth start coming in, their pediatric dentist may recommend setting up a visit to the orthodontist if any issues with development arise as your child’s adult teeth finish coming in. This will be in addition to their bi-annual visits. 

Pediatric Dentistry of Central Iowa Is Here to Be Your Guide

As soon as it’s time to take your child to the dentist, choose to take them to Pediatric Dentistry of Central Iowa. We know how to work with children and their families to provide the best care possible and help you on your journey from baby to adult teeth. With offices in both Ankeny and West Des Moines, contact us today to set up your little one’s first appointment!

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