We have two sets of teeth during our life: 20 primary teeth and 32 permanent teeth. The 20 primary, or baby teeth, are essential for chewing, speech, and holding space for permanent teeth. Primary teeth start to develop In Utero and emerge in the mouth in the first 3 years of life. It is important to remember that even though your child will lose these teeth, they still need to be taken care of. As soon as teeth develop in your child’s mouth, it is possible for your child to develop a cavity. Beginning healthy oral hygiene habits at an early age will teach children the importance of maintaining these habits throughout life.

Teeth develop as buds similar to flower buds. They take their time and will emerge when ready. Primary tooth buds are developing during pregnancy and the permanent tooth buds start developing within the first year of life.

Children gradually lose their baby teeth around ages 6-12. The first adult teeth to come in are molars. Molars are important because they aid in shaping your child’s face. They also affect the position and health of the other adult teeth that are about to develop.  Once all of the permanent teeth are in, some children may begin to wear braces (for the first time or second time). It is especially important to maintain healthy oral hygiene with braces. It’s also important to wear a mouth guard while playing sports, especially those that are high impact sports. Around age 17-21 the last teeth may emerge — the wisdom teeth.  The wisdom teeth will be the last of all 32 permanent teeth that develop.

Tips to Maintain a Healthy Smile

  1. Begin cleaning your child’s mouth even before teeth emerge.  Massaging the gums with a moistened washcloth is preferable after feedings.
  2. Once your child’s teeth start to come into the mouth, brush using a children’s toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than the size of a grain of rice.
  3. Help your child brush his or her teeth until they are able to do it themselves, usually around age 8. Then, supervise their brushing to make sure they brush thoroughly for 2 minutes, twice a day.
  4. Encourage healthy eating habits that include a diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Serve nutritious snacks to your kids and limit sweets as a special treat only.
  5. Floss daily.
  6. Maintain regular dental visits every 6 months.

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