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Dental exams

Your child's primary (baby) teeth will start to come in around 6 months old. She should have her full set of baby teeth by age 3.

Around age 6, the first of the baby teeth will start to fall out and the permanent (adult) teeth will start to come in.

  • The American Dental Association recommends that you take your child to the dentist as soon as the first baby tooth appears.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends your health care provider check your child’s teeth and gums during routine visits.

Start dental well checkups no later than her third birthday.

Other tips for making sure your child's teeth and gums are healthy include the following.

  • Start "brushing" your baby's teeth when her first tooth appears. Wipe her gums with a clean, damp cloth every day. When more teeth come in, use a small, soft toothbrush.
  • Start to floss your child's teeth as soon as two teeth come in next to each other.
  • Do not put milk, formula, juices or other sugary drinks in your baby's bottle at bedtime or naptime. If your baby needs a bottle, give her water. As your baby sleeps, and her mouth saliva is reduced, the sugary drinks increase the risk of tooth decay.
  • Use toothpaste when your child turns 2 years old. Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and make sure your child spits it out, not swallows it. Swallowing too much toothpaste with fluoride can cause white spots on the permanent teeth.
  • Brush your child's teeth twice a day until she can handle the toothbrush alone (around age 6 to 7).
  • Talk with your child's dentist about fluoride treatments. Tell the dentist if you have well water.
  • Take your child to the dentist for well checkups every six months.
  • Give your child regular, healthful meals and limit snacking between meals. Offer healthful snacks.
  • If your child is in sports (such as hockey), make sure she wears a proper mouth guard.

 

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Guide for the Care of Children: Ages Birth to 5 Years Old, fifth edition

To avoid awkward sentences, instead of referring to your child as "he/she" or "him/her," this guide will alternate between "he" or she" and "him" or "her."

First published: 02/01/2010
Last updated: 01/01/2014

Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts, including the Pediatric Department of Allina Health Coon Rapids Clinic