Children’s Dental Info.
Early checkups matter.
The earlier children begin getting regular children’s dental exams, the healthier their mouths will stay throughout their lives. Dental checkups help prevent cavities and tooth decay, which can lead to pain, trouble concentrating and other medical issues. Regular checkups also contribute to a creating a confident smile for your child.
TIP: Baby teeth begin to erupt at about six months, but this varies from child to child. When the first teeth come in, begin using a wet washcloth to wipe the teeth clean or a soft toothbrush without toothpaste.
Children’s dental exams: The first visit
We recommend scheduling your child’s first dental exam between 3 and 3 1/2 years old. We like to call the first visit a “happy check.” If you have concerns earlier than age 3, you can always have us see your child sooner.
There are a few reasons for early checkups:
- To make sure the teeth and gums are forming normally
- To check for cavities and discuss oral hygiene
- To familiarize your child with the dental office in a non-threatening way to build trust
If you would like to know more about what occurs during a children’s dental exam, please contact us.
Your teeth by the numbers.
During your lifetime, you will have two sets of teeth. Primary (or baby) teeth appear around ages six to eight months, and all 20 are in place by age three. Children will begin losing their teeth at approximately age 5.
Permanent teeth will begin to grow around age six, and with the exception of wisdom teeth, are all present between ages 12 and 14. The next teeth to grow in are the 12-year molars and finally the wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth typically begin breaking through from age 17 and on. The total number of permanent teeth is usually 22, though few people have room for all 22 teeth, which is why wisdom teeth are usually removed. Any concerns can be addressed by Drs. Cope at your child’s dental checkup.
Wisdom teeth wisdom
Regular six-month dental checkups help us determine if and when the wisdom teeth need to be removed. Preemptive extraction may prevent wisdom tooth pain or infection later on if the third molars are trapped inside the jawbone and don’t have room to come in.
Misalignment issues may also be avoided with wisdom teeth removal. If Drs. Cope recommend the extraction of wisdom teeth, they can refer you to an oral surgeon.
TIP: It is often best to extract the wisdom teeth in the adolescent years when the roots are about two-thirds formed. This makes the removal easier for the patient.
Q & A
Why keep baby teeth clean?
Children usually get their first adult permanent teeth around six years old. From six to about 12 years-old, baby teeth will loosen and fall out, then the adult teeth will grow in to replace them. Regular check-ups every six months are important during this time to check the development of the teeth, check for cavities, evaluate spacing and crowding, and decide if and when orthodontic treatment and braces is necessary.
When does thumb-sucking become damaging to the teeth?
Generally, if the child has stopped sucking his/her thumb by age five there is no permanent damage. However, if the child is a vigorous and constant thumb sucker, there can be moderate to severe movement of teeth and prevention of normal bone growth.
When is the best time to remove wisdom teeth?
When the removal of wisdom teeth is determined necessary, it is best done when the roots are approximately two-thirds formed, usually in the adolescent years. Removal at this time allows for an easier procedure and decreases the risk of damage to the nerves in that area.
Why fix baby teeth that have decay?
It is very important to maintain the baby teeth because these teeth hold space for the future eruption of the permanent teeth. If a baby tooth decays or is removed too early, the space necessary for the permanent teeth is lost and can only be regained through orthodontic treatment. Infected baby teeth can cause the permanent teeth to develop improperly resulting in stains, pits and weaker teeth.
Should my child wear a mouth guard while playing sports?
It is strongly recommended that children wear a mouth guard while playing any contact sport. It is always better to prevent an injury than to repair one. The earlier a child begins to wear the mouth guard, the easier it is to become comfortable and continue to wear it as they get older.
At what age are my children supposed to see a dentist?
We recommend scheduling your child’s first dental exam between 3 and 3 1/2 years old. If an area of concern is noticed, then the child should see a dentist as soon as possible.
For more information about baby teeth, visit MouthHealthy.org.