Growing Mouths

First teeth to adult teeth

When will my child’s teeth come through?
The early milk teeth start appearing at around 6 months old.
First teeth have usually developed before your child is born but will only start to appear at around 6 months. All 20 milk teeth should be through by the age of 2. The first permanent ‘adult’ molars (back teeth) will appear at about 6 years of age, behind the baby teeth and before the first teeth start to fall out at about 6 to 7. The permanent ‘adult’ teeth will then replace the ‘baby’ teeth. It is usually the lower front teeth that are lost first, followed by the upper front teeth shortly after. All permanent teeth should be in place by the age of 13, except the wisdom teeth. These may erupt any time between 18 and 25 years of age. All children are different and develop at different rates

When should you start brushing your child’s teeth?
You should begin caring for your children’s teeth from the moment that their first tooth emerges through the gums. It is important that you make tooth brushing a routine with your child, in the morning and before bedtime. You may find it easier to stand or sit behind your child, cradling their chin in your hand so you can reach their top and bottom teeth more easily.
As your child gets older you can teach them how to brush their own teeth, using a gentle, circular motion with fluoride toothpaste. Once all the teeth have come through, use a small-headed soft toothbrush in small circular movements and try to concentrate on one section at a time.
Don’t forget to brush gently behind the teeth and onto the gums.
From the age of 7, your child should be able to brush their teeth without your help, although you should always begin by supervising your child whilst they brush their teeth.

Click here for advice on choosing a toothbrush for your child

When should I take my child to the dentist?
It is recommended that children should go to the dentist with their parents as soon as possible for dentists to examine teeth but also to help your child get used to the environment. You should then take them regularly as recommended by your dentist.

How can I prevent tooth decay in my child?
Sugary or acidic foods should be kept to mealtimes only to limit the amount of time teeth are exposed to the causes of harmful plaque. The more often your child has sugary or acidic foods or drinks, the more likely they are to have decay.
Brushing for two minutes, twice a day, particularly before bed time, will help to prevent tooth decay.

What could cause my child to have toothache?
Toothache is painful and upsetting, especially in children, and the main cause is still tooth decay. This is due to too much sugar or acid, too often, in the diet.
Teething is another problem which starts at around 6 months and can continue as all the adult teeth start to come through. If your child needs pain relief, make sure you choose a sugar-free medicine and also remember to check with the doctor or pharmacist that you are being prescribed sugar-free medicines at all times. If the pain continues then contact your dentist for an appointment.

What is acid erosion and how can I prevent it in my child?
Dental erosion of tooth enamel is a growing problem especially amongst young people due to diet. Unlike cavities which are caused by plaque bacteria, erosion is caused by acid attacking the tooth enamel making it softer for a while and therefore more susceptible to damage from brushing. These acids can be found in fizzy drinks but also in food and drink considered to be more healthy such as fruit juices and salad dressings. To avoid acid erosion it is recommended to reduce the intake of acidic food and drink between meals. To use a straw when drinking carbonated drinks and to avoid ‘swishing’ around the mouth. Chewing gum after acid foods can also help as it encourage s saliva production which helps protect enamel. It is important leave brushing of teeth for at least one hour after consuming acidic food or drink as the enamel will be softer. A soft toothbrush should be used with a low abrasion fluoride toothpaste.