What every parent should know about their children’s teeth

Order of tooth eruption in children and young adults

When should I expect my child to get his/her first teeth? Many parents ask this question, and the answer varies depending on the child and on the tooth in question. Although no two children are the same in terms of when they will get their first teeth, and when those milk teeth will fall out and be replaced by adult teeth, the chart below gives a general guide.

Tooth When it Emerges When it is replaced by adult tooth
Upper Front teeth 8 to 12 months 6 to 7 years
Upper Lateral Incisors 9 to 14 months 7 to 8 years
Upper Canine/Eye teeth 16 to 22 months 9 to 12 years
Upper First Molars 12 to 18 months 9 to 11 years
Upper Second Molars 24 to 32 months 10 to 12 years
Lower Front Teeth 6 to 10 months 6 to 7 years
Lower Lateral Incisors 10 to 16 months 7 to 8 years
Lower Canine/Eye Teeth 16 to 22 months 9 to 12 years
Lower First Molars 14 to 18 months 9 to 11 years
Lower Second Molars 22 to 32 months 10 to 12 years

Start brushing the teeth and cleaning the gums and mouth early in life

It is recommended that parents start to brush their child’s teeth from the time the first tooth erupts. An infant toothbrush may be used, or alternatively, a soft cloth may be wrapped around the fingers and used to brush the teeth. Use infant toothpaste for babies, as they are likely to swallow the toothpaste, and infant toothpastes do not contain fluoride.

Having two adults cooperating to help clean baby’s teeth

If you find it difficult to brush your baby’s teeth, a knee-to-knee technique may be useful. This technique can be demonstrated to you by your dentist. Briefly, two adults sit on chairs with their knees touching. The baby straddles one of the adults, and lies on his/her back across the laps of the adults. One adult holds the arms of the baby comfortably across the baby’s chest so that the other adult may have full access to the baby’s mouth.  The baby’s teeth can be brush on the outer sides first with a toothbrush or soft cloth wrapped around the finger or one of the adults. To safely reach the interior of the mouth, the adult may place a clean, short-nailed finger on the baby’s gum behind the last tooth. This will hold the mouth open while preventing the baby from biting the adult’s finger, and give access to the interior of the mouth so that the inner surfaces of the baby’s teeth may be brushed.

First dental visit sooner than you think, approximately at the age of 1 year

As recommended by the Canadian Dental Association, your child’s first dental visit should occur by 6 months after their first tooth has erupted or by 1 year of age, whichever is sooner. Visiting by this time will help to ensure that your teeth cleaning method at home is effective, and that your dentist can catch and fix any problems early on, before they become more serious. Furthermore, it teaches your child that visiting the dentist on a regular basis is an important means to keep their teeth healthy.

Remember dental exams for children three years of age and under are free at Broad Street Dental Centre. Call your downtown dentist in Victoria for details of our program and to book your child’s dental appointment.