The Stages of Children’s Tooth Development and How to Care for Them

Teeth start developing in the womb: however, the first set emerges between 6 and 12 months of age. These are called primary or baby teeth. Children usually develop 20 baby teeth which fall out between the ages of 6 and 12 years to make way for permanent teeth. 

Despite their short-lived appearance, baby teeth serve several vital functions. Firstly,  the teeth hold a place for permanent teeth. Without baby teeth, a child is likely to develop dental crowding and misalignment. Secondly, baby teeth allow proper development of the jaw. Furthermore, since the teeth develop gradually, they allow children to go through all the feeding stages, from breastfeeding and weaning to complete feeding. Moreover, primary teeth are essential for speech development. 

As a child approaches adulthood, all the baby teeth are replaced with permanent teeth and an extra set of 12. On average, all 32 permanent teeth are usually in place by age 21. 

Since teeth go through different phases of growth, different approaches to care are needed to maintain healthy development. Here are some recommendations on how to protect your kids’ teeth at every age.

Infant Teeth 

This covers the period between the first tooth’s appearance at 6 months and 12 months. 

On average, a 1-year-old baby is expected to have around 6 teeth. Caring for infant teeth involves using a clean, damp washcloth to wipe the gums and teeth after feedings. Once a tooth emerges, you can use a soft-bristled toothbrush and a smear of 1000ppm fluoride toothpaste to brush the tooth. 

Some children may have delayed teething which requires further evaluation by the dentist. Furthermore, as the teeth erupt, inflammation may occur and cause irritation. This can be managed with simple oral painkillers or numbing gels. Nonetheless, it’s important to start seeing the dentist within the first six months of teething.

Toddler Teeth

Between the ages of 1 and 3 years, children typically develop a full set of 20 primary teeth. Oral care typically involves brushing twice daily with 1000ppm fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush. Furthermore, children need supervision at this stage to develop the correct practices. For example, you should encourage your child to clean all areas of their mouth and spit out the toothpaste after brushing. Although supervision is necessary, allowing the child to build confidence in their routine is important. The same technique is used to support childrens’ reading habits as well.

Child Teeth 

As children approach 6 years, they start losing their baby teeth and growing permanent teeth. This stage can last to around 12 years old, and it’s crucial since good development of permanent teeth is pegged on proper oral care. 

Children between 6-12 years should continue brushing twice daily with 1350-1500ppm fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Furthermore, daily flossing is recommended. Since children are on full feeds at this age, it’s also important to avoid sugary foods and drinks, discourage poor eating practices like chewing ice and encourage healthy feeding habits.

Pre-Teen Teeth

Children between the ages of 7 and 12 years have permanent and baby teeth. Nonetheless, oral care follows the same approach as adults. Therefore, the recommendation is to brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and floss daily. Although the children are independent, guardians need to follow up on their oral care routines and ensure everything is done correctly. It’s important to get oral care right at pre-teen years since it’s the period children develop most of their habits. 

Children need to commit to regular dental checkups for the best outcomes in dental health. Dentists recommend the first visit within the first year of life and regular checkups from 6 years old. The visits are designed to monitor the development and manage any disease. Furthermore, dental visits are perfect for addressing concerns, seeking clarifications, and asking for advice. 

All in all, it’s imperative to get oral care right through the different stages of a child’s dental development. It’s the best way to set them up for a smooth experience in adulthood.

Richard Maxwell

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