Shortly after children are born – approximately 6 months – tiny teeth known as primary teeth begin to erupt from their gums. The first teeth to erupt are usually the lower and upper middle teeth, called the central incisors. Once those are in place, parents will begin to notice more teeth emerging every few months until, eventually, all 20 primary teeth are in place by age 3. Though the primary teeth are only around for a few years, it is important to care for them diligently the same way adults care for permanent teeth.

The jaw starts to expand to make room for permanent teeth around age four, which begin to emerge at approximately age 6. Many children only gain new incisors and a first molar until ages 10 – 13, when canines and additional molars begin to emerge. A final molar, sometimes referred to as a wisdom tooth, emerges in late adolescence to early adulthood.

Did you know…
that children are born with teeth? Though their gums appear bare at birth, the crowns of each primary tooth are hiding just below the surface. There are 20 primary teeth altogether, which are eventually replaced by 32 permanent ones. Until then, “baby teeth” help children learn to chew and communicate; not to mention, they make great “practice” teeth for the adult years.

Frequently Asked Questions
Should I have my child’s teeth examined as they erupt from the gums?
You should bring your child to the dentist when his or her first tooth erupts. After that, visit a Santa Cruz pediatric dentist every six months for cleanings and check-ups, or more frequently, if complications arise. When your child is old enough to get permanent molars, you may benefit from visiting the dentist soon after they erupt to have protective sealants placed on those teeth.

What should I expect when I take my child to a Santa Cruz dentist?
Dental appointments for children usually consist of an examination, cleaning, and fluoride treatment. Your dentist may recommend that you make changes to your home care habits or recommend treatment for any complications found during your child’s visit.

Should I be following any special care instructions between pediatric dental visits?
Yes. Before your child’s teeth erupt, gently cleanse the gums daily using a clean, moist cloth. You may begin brushing using a soft-bristled toothbrush as soon as the first tooth emerges, and your child may use a small amount of child-safe toothpaste beginning at age 2. As your child’s teeth continue to emerge and fill in gaps, teach your child the importance of flossing and the proper way of doing it. Finally, avoid allowing your child to consume excessive amounts of sugary beverages and foods, as these can lead to tooth decay.

You can learn more about tooth eruption in Santa Cruz, California, and how to care for your child’s teeth by calling 831-459-9802 today and arranging a visit with Dr. Brent Porter.