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5 Essential Dental Milestones to Watch For in Your Children

Raising a child means constant love and attention, especially when it comes to their health. After all, children are growing at a lightning-quick pace and it’s your responsibility to ensure they’re hitting all the necessary milestones as they age.

While it isn’t uncommon for some children to experience milestones at different times compared to their peers, most kids will follow the same pattern of dental milestones as they grow. If you’re a new parent, here are some of the primary milestones your licensed dentist will monitor in your child through the years.

Teething

Baby tooth eruption, also known as teething, occurs when your child first grows their baby teeth. This typically occurs before your child hits one year in age, but some children can develop their first teeth as early as three months old. More often than not, you’ll notice the bottom front teeth come in first, followed closely by the top front teeth. These teeth are then followed by the canines and molars, though these eruptions can also happen simultaneously.

This can be a painful time for children and often involves a lot of screaming and crying as they begin to grow. Children will often feel the need to chew on things in order to relieve some of the pressure in the gums. At this stage, it’s not uncommon for a child to refuse food or beverage because it hurts so much. Keep in mind, however, that the gums aren’t being cut or damaged as the teeth come in — this is a natural process that your child’s body accounts for by making room in the gums for the teeth to erupt.

Your child will likely have their full set of baby teeth by age three though some may have them all by age two. As soon as the first tooth comes in, however, it’s recommended that you bring them to a licensed dentist for a checkup. Family dentists are adept at identifying problems or abnormalities in your child’s mouth before they cause problems later on. Kids dentists can also offer great tips for oral hygiene and pain relief. In fact, it’s recommended that you should start cleaning your child’s gums with a damp cloth before teeth even erupt. When that first tooth comes in, it’s vital that you start a brushing routine to develop healthy habits in your children.

Thumb-sucking

Thumb-sucking is a coping mechanism that many children turn into a habit. Thumb-sucking can be a way to relieve pressure in the gums during teething, but many children turn to this harmful habit when they’re feeling stressed. In particularly severe cases of thumb-sucking, the development of the palate and jaw can be affected because of the pressure. While some degree of thumb-sucking is considered normal, be sure to check in with a licensed dentist to monitor the behavior — and your child’s development.

Losing the first tooth

Your child will often lose their first tooth around the age of five or six. This is an exciting time for your child since this loss paves the way for adult teeth to follow. If your child is nervous, however, you can always pull out the tooth fairy card to make it a more fun experience.

Baby teeth will continue to fall out over the course of the next few years. This can happen naturally or happen because of impact while playing or through sports. Ensure your child wears a mouthguard when they partake in team sports so a baby tooth doesn’t come out before it’s ready.

Braces

When your child has their full set of adult teeth — typically by age 12 — it’s time to consider braces. More often than not, your child will have misaligned teeth due to genetic reasons. Overcrowding, misaligned jaws, and other issues can make teeth crooked or create gaps between teeth. In severe cases, some children experience jaw pain because of an overbite or crossbite. This is the perfect opportunity to invest in braces.

Investing in braces early ensures that your child’s teeth will look good for years to come. This is also a great age to introduce braces since most other children will also have them around this time. Establishing healthy dental habits, such as flossing and wearing a retainer, is easiest at this age since younger children are more likely to form these habits than older kids. Talk to your licensed dentist about braces for your child if their teeth are crooked or if there are issues in your child’s jaw.

Wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth are often the last dental milestone for your child. These pesky back molars can form anywhere between the ages of 16 through 24. While these teeth may have helped our ancestors replace missing teeth, they’re largely unnecessary in modern times. As a result, they often cause overcrowding in the mouth, pain when they come in, and problems if they aren’t removed.

Luckily, a licensed dentist should have no problem getting rid of these malignant molars. When your child starts to experience dental pain because of wisdom teeth, refer to pediatric dentists for advice and preventative care tips.

There are a number of milestones your child will experience as they age. Here are just some of the dental milestones they might experience throughout their childhood.