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Dental Milestones for Children

By HERWriter
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When will my baby get his first tooth? When should I start brushing my baby’s teeth? When should my child have his/her first dental appointment? When will my child start losing teeth? My son’s/daughter’s friends have all lost teeth, but my child hasn’t; is this okay?

These are just some of the many questions that mothers (and fathers) ask about their child’s dental health. This article has compiled the answers to those questions from a variety of sources. As always, this information should not be seen as a diagnosis of anything or ultimate recommendation of treatment. You should always consult your family dentist if you have any questions or concerns.

More than 1 in 4 children in the United States have cavities by the age of 4. Some have cavities by the age of 2. In some cases, poor oral hygiene has combined with genetics in these situations. But it is important for parents to realize their role in looking after their children’s teeth from the moment they are born for their children to have a healthy mouth.

Good Brushing Habits

Good brushing habits start from the very beginning, from the very first feeding. Just a simple swipe of the tongue, gums and cheeks with a soft facecloth can clear away bacteria that might settle on the gums and cause infections.

Doing this right from the beginning gets the baby used to something being in their mouth and touching their tongue, lips, and gums.

As teeth start to come in, transition to a soft toothbrush and water (more details later).

If you bottle feed, do not let your baby go to bed with a bottle with milk, formula, juice or anything other than, perhaps, water. These drinks will leave bacteria and sugar on your baby’s gums and teeth and without proper rinsing overnight by saliva, cavities and gum disease can develop.

Many pediatric, general and family dentists can attest to the serious harm done to babies’ teeth because of these practices including the need for crown placement or other restorative techniques to keep the baby teeth in place until the permanent teeth are ready to take their place.

First Teeth

Add a Comment8 Comments

Hmm. That's interesting Susan. I have always read that as soon as your child sprouts his first tooth, he should pay a visit to the dentist (I secretly thought this was way too early. What if my child is born with a tooth?) But I agree with Darlene, there is probably no one age set in stone to take your child to the Dentist as long as you do :-)

September 13, 2009 - 6:57am

If that's what they're recommending and you have had no prior issues or concerns then go with that. Our dentist has suggested we bring our one-year-old in, so it's really a matter of practice and opinion.

September 11, 2009 - 11:54am
HERWriter Guide

My dentist and pediatrician said that age 3 is when they recommend a first dental visit. That's what I stuck to anyway, our 3 year old has hers in a couple of months.

My kids love the dentist's office. The staff make it fun, they are encouraging and affirming and there is no fear from my kids (ages 3, 4 and 5) at all! They look forward to it, which is a good thing.

However, I am still in braces and am looking forward to "only" needing a twice yearly checkup - these train tracks and rubber bands and endless wires and chains will be off before Christmas and there will be no tears shed!

September 11, 2009 - 11:17am

As with everything, the more you do it the more comfortable they get with it. I have been brushing my baby's teeth from the moment they arrived and he actually looks forward to it. I found Orajel has a fluoride-free toothpaste (with Thomas the Tank Engine on it), which is what I have been using.

Mine had six teeth by his first birthday, two below, 4 uppers and is now breaking through four molars (2 upper, 2 lower) - which is interesting because there are still teeth in between that haven't come in, yet.

Just like me. Doin' his own thing!

September 11, 2009 - 9:39am

Good Article. The Fluoride comment by Anon is also important considering Flouride should not be given to babies yet Nursery water for infants contains it :-/ I also agree that it's appropriate just to add since the article was about our children's teeth (even though it was about milestones, a little bit of extra information never hurts).

Sticking to the topic at hand, my 7 month old has already sprouted 4 (going on 5) teeth in a matter of 3 weeks. I purchased the little soft bristle brush that fits into your finger and brush his teeth with that. I am not sure how he will react to his first doctor's visit coming soon, he doesn't like to be assessed by his pediatrician so I can't even imagine what someone going into his mouth will do to him.

September 11, 2009 - 9:26am
EmpowHER Guest

This is a very helpful article. It should have included one other fact. The ADA and the CDC have warned not to use fluoridated water to mix infant formulas for infants or young children. The CDC also admits that swallowing fluoride has no value. It is known that over 50% of childen in fluoridated communities have damaged enamel (fluorosis). Even worse, reaearch shows an increase of lowered IQ, mental retardation and a dramatic increase in bone cancer. Adults suffer an increase in oral and other cancers, destruction of thyroid glands and brittle bones (broken hips).
Do your own research by reading the scientific facts at www.fluoridealert.org.

September 8, 2009 - 4:46pm
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

This is a completely different topic than what my article was about. I plan to tackle the debate over fluoride in a future article. Let's stay on the topic of children's dental milestones and the information provided.

September 8, 2009 - 4:59pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Darlene Oakley)

Ms. Oakley: I meant to stop with the statement about ADA and CDC recommending against giving fluoride to infants and young children because of the extensive resulting fluorosis. I think that is appropriate for your topic. Then I got carried away with the other fluoride facts. Sorry.

September 8, 2009 - 10:33pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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