Key Oral Milestones in Your Child’s Development

oral milestones

As a parent, you want to give your child the best chance at everything, including excellent oral health.  Your dedication to excellent oral health care and wellness can shape your child’s smile now and for years to come.  Learn the milestones to watch out for with your child’s tooth progression. Knowing when and what to do with your child’s oral care can help you succeed with confidence and knowledge.

The Arrival of Baby Teeth (Primary Teeth)

The arrival of baby teeth is a huge milestone in your child’s oral development.  According to the American Dental Association (ADA) Mouth Healthy site, dental care should begin as soon as the first tooth erupts with a trip to the dentist and continue in recommended intervals to monitor homecare and further development. Take special care of your child’s baby teeth. They serve an important role. Not only do they act as space holders for the permanent teeth, they aid in proper speech and nourishment.  Refer to the chart below on the average arrival times of primary and secondary teeth.  Not all children will receive their teeth exactly at these times, but this will give you a good idea of what to expect and when.  It is a good idea to keep track of which teeth are coming in and when. Make a tracking list that you can review with your dentist at your 6-month appointments.  Let Dr. Niles know of any concerns you may have about how the teeth are coming in.

oral milestones: baby teeth eruption chart

First Dental Visit

Shortly after your child has reached one of their first milestones–the first erupted tooth–it is time for their second huge milestone–a first dental visit! The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend that you take your child to the dentist within six months after his first tooth erupts, or by his first birthday, whichever comes first. Scheduling the first dental visit at an early age is vital for the long-term health and development of your child’s teeth–visible and invisible.

The Mixed Dentition Stage

Another milestone in your child’s oral development is what is called the mixed dentition stage. This stage is defined as the period from when your child’s first permanent molar appears in the mouth (around 5 or 6 years of age) and ends when the last primary tooth is lost (usually between the ages of 10-12). An adult mouth is comprised of 32 permanent teeth! Take care of those permanent teeth as they come in–your child won’t get another set!

Learning How to Care for Their Teeth

Learning how to brush and floss their own teeth is another key milestone in child oral development.  Just make sure you don’t leave them to it too early! As children progress from preschoolers to older children, they begin to take on more of the brushing responsibility themselves.  HOWEVER, children between the ages of 6-10 still need you to help, evaluate, teach, and help them to consistently brush.  Children need to make sure they brush each section, front and back. Your guidance and encouragement can help prevent serious plaque buildup and decay. Conduct follow-up brushing that is needed–your child might not appreciate it at the time, but they will appreciate it when they are examined and found to not have any cavities!

Braces and Wisdom Teeth

Before you know it, your child will be hitting their teen years and will reach yet another big oral milestone–braces and wisdom teeth.  The teenage years represent a time when your teen needs to understand the connection between a healthy mouth AND a healthy body. Helping them understand the connection of nutrition and oral wellness is crucial. Brushing, flossing and fluoride-enriched products may need to be left out where these busy teens can see them and be reminded of their importance. Teens can use phone apps to help them care for their teeth–timers, reminders, and oral education resources are no freely available to them and can be–literally–at their fingertips. Receiving orthodontic treatment to correct misalignment or crooked teeth is a common milestone in oral development. Many different methods are available for your teen today for obtaining the smile they need and want!  Typically after orthodontic treatment has terminated, your teen will be reaching one of their final oral development milestones–wisdom teeth arrival/eruption/extraction.  Encourage them to closely monitor the eruption of their wisdom teeth. Dr. Niles will keep her eye on how the wisdom teeth are coming in and will counsel you about your extraction options if extraction is necessary.

Call to Schedule Dental Consultation Today!

Understanding the milestones involved in your child’s oral development will better help you to prepare them for a lifetime of excellent oral health and wellness. Our Niles Family Dentistry team is available whenever you have questions or concerns along the way.  Your child, and your family, have a home with us! We are committed to offering you state-of-the-art technology with expert skills so you can get the most out of your visits with us.  Dr. Niles is a family dentist in Niwot, Colorado, with convenient access to the communities of Boulder, Longmont, Lafayette, and Louisville.  Niles Family Dentistry offers state-of-the-art family dentistry and cosmetic dentistry.  Call for your appointment today at (720) 744-0001. We look forward to meeting you and your family!

Ashley Niles

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