Children’s teeth begin forming before birth. As early as 4 months, the first primary teeth, or baby teeth, to erupt through the gums are the lower central incisors, followed closely by the upper central incisors. Although all 20 primary teeth usually appear by age 3, the pace and order of their eruption varies.
Oral care should begin soon after baby’s birth. Gums should be cleaned after each feeding. You can begin brushing your child’s teeth as soon as they appear.
Permanent teeth begin appearing around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process continues until approximately age 21.
Adults have 28 permanent teeth, or up to 32 including the third molars (or wisdom teeth).
Always clean your infant’s gums after feedings. Wipe gums with a clean, damp cloth or gauze pad. Parents should brush children’s teeth daily with a soft wet toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Schedule a dental visit between 6-12 months of age. Supervise your child’s brushing to ensure proper brushing habits.
To prevent nursing bottle mouth, if you must give your baby a bottle at nap or bed time, fill it with plain water - not milk, formula, or juice.
Your dentist may recommend regular fluoride treatments to strengthen enamel and resist decay. Whenever possible, drink fluoridated water and always use an ADA-accepted fluoridated toothpaste.
Dental sealants can provide a further layer of protection against cavities. The plastic coating is painted on the grooved chewing surfaces of the back teeth.