Development and Eruption Dates
At what age will the baby teeth appear?
The timing of the eruption of your child’s first teeth can vary widely from 3 months to as late as 12 months. The first teeth to appear are usually the central lower teeth. The following guide will give you an idea of what to expect.
Baby teeth (primary or deciduous teeth)
- 6-9 months: central incisors start to break through
- by 12 months: central and lateral incisors present
- 9-12 months: all front incisors now present
- 12-14 months: first molars
- 16-18 months: canines
- 18-30 months: second molars
Adult teeth (permanent teeth)
- 6–9 years: central incisors replaced first lower adult molar erupts behind primary molars
- 9–12 years: canines replaced
- 9–12 years: permanent premolars replace primary molars
- 11–13 years: second molars erupt
- 17–21 years: third molars (wisdom teeth) erupt
Caring for your children’s teeth
What should I expect when my child is teething?
Whilst teething your baby may look flushed and dribble more than usual. They may find comfort from the use of a chilled teething ring. Alternatively there are special teething gels that can be used to reduce the pain. Do check that these products are sugar free.
When should I start brushing my baby’s teeth?
Plaque – a sticky white film will start to form on your baby’s teeth and gums as soon as the first tooth starts to erupt through the gum. It is very important to start with a good brushing routine as soon as baby’s teeth first show to help prevent tooth decay and gum problems.
When should my child visit a dentist?
Begin by taking your baby along to your dentist when you have your check ups so that they become comfortable with the environment and smells. You should aim to develop the habit of visiting your dentist as soon as your baby’s first teeth appear.
Questions to ask about caring for your child’s teeth
- When should I start to clean my baby’s teeth?
- What is the appropriate level of fluoride for my child’s toothpaste?
- What type of toothbrush should I use?
- What advice do you have for a child who is teething?
- What else should I be doing to help take care of my children’s teeth?
What are fissure sealants?
Fissure sealants are a safe and painless way of protecting your children’s teeth from decay. A sealant is a protective plastic coating, which is applied to the biting surfaces of the back teeth. The sealant forms a hard shield that keeps food and bacteria from getting into the tiny grooves (fissures) in the teeth and causing decay.
Which teeth should be sealed?
Fissure sealants are normally only applied to the back teeth – the molars and premolars. These are the teeth that have pits and fissures on their biting surfaces. Graeme will tell you which teeth should be sealed after he has examined the patient, and checked whether the fissures are deep enough for sealing to help. Some teeth naturally form with deep fissures, which will need to be sealed, others with shallow fissures, which will probably not require a sealant.
Will the fissure sealant process hurt?
No, it is totally pain free, and the teeth do not feel any different afterwards.
How long do they last?
Fissure sealants last for many years but our dentists will want to check them regularly to make sure that the sealant is still intact. They can wear over time, and sometimes the dentist will need to add or replace some sealant to be sure that no decay can start underneath them.
When should this be done?
Fissure sealants are often applied as soon as the permanent teeth start to come through. This is usually between 6 and 7 years of age. The rest of the molars and premolars are usually sealed as soon as they appear which can be any time between 11 and 14 years of age.
Why is a healthy smile important?
An attractive and healthy smile is most important when meeting people and making friends. It can also boost your confidence to help you feel good about yourself. If you don’t look after your teeth and gums properly you could suffer from a number of different conditions that will make you stand out from the crowd for all the wrong reasons:
- bad breath
- stained teeth
- tooth decay
- gum disease
- tooth loss
- dental erosion
What is dental erosion?
Dental erosion is the loss of tooth enamel caused by acid attacks. Enamel is the hard, protective coating of the tooth. If it is worn away the dentine underneath is exposed and your teeth can look discoloured and become sensitive.
Can acidic foods and drinks and fizzy drinks cause dental erosion?
Yes. Still water and milk are the best things to drink. Tea without sugar is also good for teeth as it contains fluoride. Drink fruit juice at mealtimes. If you want to drink fruit juices between meals, try diluting them with water.
Can I eat between meals?
If you need to eat between meals avoid sugary snacks, try these foods instead:
- plain popcorn
- bread sticks
- plain yoghurt
- rice cakes
- cheese scones
- unsweetened cereal
- plain bagels
- fresh soup
- raw vegetable pieces
- fresh fruit
What effects will smoking, alcohol or taking drugs have on my oral health?
Smoking can cause tooth staining, gum disease, tooth loss and – more seriously – mouth cancer. Smoking is also one of the main causes of bad breath. Alcoholic drinks can also cause mouth cancer. Smoking and drinking together further increases the risk of developing mouth cancer.
Alcohol can also increase the risk of tooth decay and erosion. Some alcoholic drinks have a high sugar content, and some mixed drinks may contain acids. So they can cause decay or dental erosion if you drink them often and in large amounts.
Illegal drugs can lead to a range of health problems. Smoking cannabis can have the same effects as smoking tobacco. Other drugs can cause a dry mouth, and increase the risk of erosion, decay, gum disease and bad breath. Drugs can also cause you to grind your teeth, which can cause headaches and other problems.
How can I improve my smile?
Orthodontics. Braces straighten or move your teeth to improve their appearance and the way they work. They can also help to improve the long-term health of your teeth, gums and jaw joints by spreading the biting pressure over all the teeth. There are many different braces and our dentists or an orthodontist will be able to talk to you about what is best for you.
What are the dangers of mouth piercing?
The dangers of mouth piercing are:
- Possible inflammation of the surrounding tissues
- Blood infections
- The tongue can swell
- Chipping and breaking of other teeth
- Speech, eating and swallowing can be difficult
- Oral hygiene is difficult to keep up
- Dental treatment can be difficult
How should I protect my teeth when playing sports?
A mouthguard will help protect you against broken and damaged teeth and even broken or dislocated jaws. It is important to wear a professionally constructed mouthguard whenever you play any sport that involves contact or moving objects.
Ask about a mouthguard at your next visit. It is a small price to pay for peace of mind.
Top tips for looking after teenagers’ teeth
- Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Use a small-to-medium-sized brush with soft-to-medium bristles and brush for two minutes
- Limit sugary food and drinks to meal times
- Visit your dentist every 6-12 months
- Floss once a day to help remove plaque and food from between your teeth
- Use a mouthwash to freshen your breath and kill bacteria
- Use a straw with fizzy drinks as this helps them to go to the back of your mouth and reduces the number of acid attacks on your teeth
- Wait for at least one hour after eating or drinking anything acidic before you brush your teeth
- Chew sugar-free gum after eating to help make more saliva and neutralise the acids which form in your mouth after eating