Toddlers Teeth

A mind of their own…

At age 3, kids start to have minds of their own. Usually by this age, they have firm opinions about doctor visits and what foods they will eat. If the child has been to the dentist prior to this age, he or she should have no fear or frustration about dental appointments.

On the other hand, if at this age he or she is going to the dentist for the first time, the situation may not be as easy. Anything the child hasn’t already been trained to do (such as potty training, going to bed on time, or taking medicine) takes a lot of extra effort from parents. And now you can add going to the dentist to that list.

By age 6, your child’s jaws are growing to make room for the permanent teeth. The first permanent molars usually erupt between ages 5 and 6. Parents often mistake them for baby teeth. These molars are especially important because they help determine the shape of the lower face. They also affect the position and health of permanent teeth. It is hard to imagine, but those little 6-year molars will be in baby’s mouth for another 70-plus years. So treat them kindly.

6 things to remember

  • Use a soft, small tooth brush.
  • Use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
  • Don’t let children eat toothpaste.
  • Always brush before bed time.
  • Be a positive role model. Let your kids see your brush and floss your teeth.
  • Don’t share your tooth brush with your kids.

Toddler’s tooth care

Once a child has most of his or her baby teeth, it is time for you to start flossing them. Brush at least twice daily and always at bedtime. Make your brushing routine fun and the child will look forward to it. Be creative. Begin a ritual of singing a song, listening to the child’s favorite music, or making up a story about the “brushing and flossing fairy.” Let the child begin brushing: then finish for him or her.

You might notice that your child has spaces between the teeth. No need to worry. This is common because the permanent teeth can be twice as large as the teeth they are replacing. Flossing at this point is mainly to get the child in the habit of seeing and feeling floss in his/her mouth.

Detecting toddler problems

Into the mouths of babies: If your child’s thumb sucking persists at age 4, it may be time for concern. The dentist should evaluate the situation. If any damage or malformation is present in the mouth, the dentist may recommend a special retainer to inhibit sucking.

A tooth in crisis: Between the ages of 3 and 6, kids fall a lot, often hitting their mouths while riding bikes and playing. At this age, gum tissue heals quickly. Baby teeth can be hit, banged, or chipped and the injury won’t necessarily have any effect on the permanent teeth. Ad a precaution, though always call the dentist as soon as possible if you have any concerns.

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