Every child develops in their own special way, reminding us just how lucky we are to watch our children grow. Your sweet 2-year-old will one day enter preschool, then make their way through grades K-12, and experience all the other exciting events that life has to offer.
In this blog, we’re taking a look at some of your child’s first milestones: the dental kind. Let’s hear from our pediatric dentist about the different dental milestones to expect in your kids and a few other things to know along the way.
Top 5 Childhood Dental Milestones, According to a Pediatric Dentist
Have a little one at home and are curious about the different dental milestones? Here are five to watch for, says our pediatric dentist:
Baby Teeth Eruption/First Pediatric Dentist Appointment
A child’s first tooth often comes through at around 6 months old. This is called the “teething stage.” As a parent, you’re probably all too familiar with this stage and remember the crying and sleepless nights as your little one’s first teeth came in.
It’s easy to feel helpless if your child is teething, and all you want to do is help their pain levels. However, teething is a standard part of your baby’s development, and it won’t last long.
The bottom front teeth are typically the first teeth to emerge, followed by the upper front teeth. While it is less common, babies can get teeth before 6 months, even at as young as 3 months (or they can be born with a full set at birth).
Every child’s teeth are different, which is why we recommend scheduling your little one their first pediatric dentist appointment whenever you notice that the first tooth has come through or by their first birthday.
Even if your child still doesn’t have their first tooth by the time their birthday rolls around, it’s still important to bring them in for a dental exam. This will give your child a chance to get more comfortable at the dental office and allow the pediatric dentist to inspect the other parts of the mouth, including the gums.
First Lost Tooth
The majority of children grow 20 baby teeth by age 3. After they turn 5 or 6, your child will be on their way to their first lost tooth. That will help there to be more room for the adult teeth (or permanent teeth).
Normally, if the bottom front teeth grow in first, as most children’s teeth do, those teeth will be the first to fall out. Of course, there’s always a chance of a child hurting their tooth during a sporting event, which can make a tooth come out before it’s ready.
If this happens to your little one, it’s important to contact a pediatric dentist right away. A dentist, such as ourselves, can put in space maintainers to serve as a placeholder between the teeth to prevent misalignments while your child awaits the permanent tooth to come in.
Many children are a little nervous about the first lost tooth. After all, they’ve spent most of their life with their teeth intact, chomping down on some of their favorite foods without worry.
Now that they have the possibility of a tooth coming out, it’s important to explain to them that losing teeth is a normal thing, and there’s nothing to be afraid of because you are there with them (and maybe the Tooth Fairy is, too!).
Full Set of Permanent Teeth
Between 12 and 14, baby teeth are usually long gone, and children now have permanent teeth. The mouth contains 34 permanent teeth, with the final four (or up to four) being wisdom teeth (more on that below).
The time it takes to get all the adult teeth can vary by child. It’s not uncommon for it to take longer for some kids, and if your child is worried because their friends already have their permanent teeth, let your child know that it will happen soon for them.
Another way you can help your child is by remaining available to answer any of their questions. Make sure they understand that these are the teeth that will stick around for the long term, so like baby teeth, it’s important to take good care of them.
That means brushing those pearly whites twice each day, flossing once, and using a fluoride rinse (or mouthwash). By this time, your child will likely be able to handle the daily dental care routine on their own without help.
Of course, it never hurts to set a good example by showing them that you take great care of your adult teeth as well and getting them involved. That could mean brushing your teeth alongside your child, purchasing your child an electric toothbrush and showing them how to use it, or taking them with you to the store to pick out toothpaste.
If a child has issues with tooth alignment, talking to a family dentist can help them figure out if braces would be a good fit. Braces can bring the teeth together, and the only thing your child will have to do is make sure to avoid certain foods (e.g., hard candies) and take proper care of the braces by keeping up with a good dental routine.
Sometimes, braces are prescribed at a very young age–just after the adult teeth are in place. Many children, however, do not get braces until they are within the ages of 10 to 14.
Where braces are concerned, getting them in early is a good rule of thumb. That’s because the teeth and jaw can stretch in different positions better than that of an adult.
Why? A child’s permanent teeth are new, whereas an adult has had permanent teeth for quite a while. In either case, braces are a great way to put your teeth in the right placement and ensure your child is happy as can be with their smile.
(Another orthodontic option young patients get is Invisalign. It can be faster to clean, more aesthetically pleasing, and just as safe as braces for kids. Your child also won’t have to go to the dentist as often, which can save you time and ensure they don’t miss any more math tests.)
Wisdom Teeth Eruption/Extraction
Wisdom teeth are a form of molar that’s located in the back part of your mouth (the last tooth on the end). You can get anywhere from one to four wisdom teeth or sometimes none at all.
It’s true: not everyone gets wisdom teeth. Normally, wisdom teeth don’t come in until a person’s early 20s, but it’s not unheard of for someone to get them as young as 16 or 17.
Once the wisdom teeth are in, your child may experience restricted jaw room and other problems. Getting the wisdom teeth removed can help cut down on swollen gums and pain in the mouth.
Here at West Richland Family Dental, we seek to remove your child’s wisdom teeth before they damage their gums, jaw, or other teeth. This can help your child feel happier all around and well enough to take care of their school as needed without missing days due to not feeling well.
Is your child nervous about the wisdom tooth extraction? This is normal. However, rest assured that our dental team will go out of our way to ensure your child’s comfort. Not only do we provide heated and self-cooling massage chairs, but we also have TVs ready for their viewing pleasure.
How a Family Dentist Can Help
Pediatric dentists and family dentists, such as the West Richland Family Dental team, will be here for your child through every dental milestone. From the moment your child turns 1 to their braces fitting on their 13th birthday, we will be here for all of your child’s dental care needs.
That includes dental exams, cleanings, extractions, sealants, and much more. And if your child ever has a dental emergency, we have them covered there, too.
Want to schedule a dentist appointment for your child? West Richland Family Dental is a top dentist in the Tri-Cities area. We provide ourselves on creating a relaxing environment where your kids can feel safe at all times. Contact us today to book an appointment.