A Guide to Children’s Teeth

As parents, we want the best for our children, this includes wanting the best for their oral health. Understanding the development of children's teeth, how to properly care for them, and how to handle tooth pain are essential aspects of ensuring a bright and healthy smile for our little ones. In this guide, we will explore these topics and provide you with valuable insights to keep your child's teeth in tip-top shape.

When do children develop teeth?

Did you know that your little one’s teeth begin to develop while they are still all snuggled up in your womb? Believe it or not, primary teeth, also known as baby teeth or milk teeth, start forming during the second trimester of pregnancy. However, they don’t make their grand entrance until around six months after birth. The initial set of baby teeth typically consists of eight incisors, four canines, and eight molars. By the time your child reaches the age of three, they will have a full set of 20 primary teeth. These primary teeth play a crucial role in your child’s oral health, aiding in speech development, proper chewing, and holding space for permanent teeth.

How do teeth develop?

Teeth development is a fascinating process. It begins with the growth of tooth buds, which form beneath the gums. Over time, these buds elongate and differentiate into the different types of teeth we mentioned earlier. Around the age of six, your child’s primary teeth will start to fall out, making way for permanent teeth. This process continues until early adolescence when the last set of molars, commonly known as wisdom teeth, emerge. By this point, your child will have a total of 32 permanent teeth.

How do you brush children’s teeth?

Establishing good oral hygiene habits from an early age is crucial for maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Here are some tips for brushing your child’s teeth:

  1. Start early: Before the first tooth appears, it is good to clean your little one’s mouth and gums by wiping with a soft cloth. Once their first tooth appears, it is time to begin brushing. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and plain tap water and brush twice a day. Once your little one turns 18 months old, you can now add a pea-sized amount of low-fluoride toothpaste (suitable for their age) and encourage them to spit out the toothpaste, not swallow and not rinse.
  2. Lead by example: Children often mimic what their parents do, so make brushing a family affair. Let your child observe you brushing your teeth and make it a fun and enjoyable experience. Giving your child a toothbrush to play with or to brush their teddies teeth can help.
  3. Gentle technique: Use gentle, circular motions to brush your child’s teeth and gums. Pay attention to all surfaces of the teeth, including the front, back, and chewing surfaces.
  4. Time matters: Brush your child’s teeth for approximately two minutes, twice a day. You can make this more engaging by singing a song or using a timer.
  5. Don’t forget the dentist: Regular dental check-ups are essential for monitoring your child’s oral health, every 6-12 months even if they don’t appear to have any problems. Visiting the dentist regularly can help prevention, early detection, and management of tooth decay.

When should you first see a dentist?

We recommend your child should see a dentist for their first check up around 12months of age when their first teeth have erupted. Starting early and when there are no problems with their teeth, allows them to get to know their dentist and create positive experiences for them to remember and make future visits more familiar.

Dealing with tooth pain

Tooth pain can be distressing for both children and parents. If your child experiences tooth pain, here are some steps you can take:

  1. Rinse with a warm saltwater wash: This is an effective first-line treatment as salt kills bacteria and the warm water eases discomfort and reduces gum swelling. Take a glass of warm water, mix in half a teaspoon of salt, and use the mixture as a mouthwash.
  2. Apply a cold compress. Applying an icepack or cold compress on your child’s outer cheek near the affected area will help relieve pain by constricting blood vessels and reducing swelling and inflammation. Hold the compress on the painful area for 20minutes and repeat every few hours.
  3. Gently floss: Sometimes, tooth pain can be caused by food particles stuck between teeth. Gently floss the affected area to remove any debris.
  4. Over-the-counter pain relief: Panadol or Ibuprofen, appropriate for your child’s age and weight, can help relieve mild tooth pain. Always consult with your child’s paediatrician or dentist before giving any medication.
  5. Contact the dentist: Tooth pain in children isn’t always a dental emergency, but it is typically something that should be treated by a dentist. Keep your child comfortable until they can be seen but be sure to schedule an appointment. They will be able to identify the underlying cause of the pain and provide appropriate treatment. If your child has any of the following symptoms, finding ‘emergency paediatric dental care near me’ should be your top priority. You can call one of our clinics and speak to our receptionist regarding an emergency appointment if needed also.

Final thoughts

Remember, as parents, we play a vital role in our children’s oral health. By following these guidelines, we can help our little ones maintain strong, healthy teeth and develop good dental habits that will last a lifetime. Let’s give them every reason to smile confidently!

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