Babies often start developing their first teeth by 6 months old, and by age 2 1/2 many have a full set of 20 primary teeth. Because the root system from the primary teeth establishes the foundation for permanent teeth, primary teeth are critical to good oral health throughout life. Kids with damaged teeth from cavities at a young age may experience a lifetime of tooth and gum problems.
At what age should kids first visit the dentist? According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, parents should follow the “first visit by first birthday” rule for dental checkups. During the first visit, dental professionals will check kids’ teeth, gum development and help them feel at home. They also will discuss good oral health, including:
- Brushing and flossing – Teach kids to brush their teeth at least twice each day… after breakfast and before bed; select a child-size toothbrush with soft bristles; use only a pea-size amount of toothpaste on the brush; replace the brush every three months; help kids floss their teeth once a day
- Avoiding pacifier or finger sucking – These habits can cause tooth misalignment
- Avoiding sugary snacks – Sweets can stick to teeth and cause decay, especially after brushing for the night
Learn more about kids’ dental care by reading the following Ameritas blogs and articles from Parents magazine: