Children's teeth begin forming before birth. As early as 4 months, the first primary,
or baby teeth to erupt through the gums are the lower central incisors, followed
closely by the upper central incisors. Although all 20 primary teeth usually appear
by age 3, the pace and order of their eruption varies.
Oral care should begin soon after baby's birth. Gums should be cleaned after each
feeding. You can begin brushing your child's teeth as soon as they appear.
Permanent teeth begin appearing around age 6, starting with the first molars and
lower central incisors. This process continues until approximately age 21. Adults
have 28 permanent teeth, or up to 32 including the third molars (or wisdom teeth).
Always clean your infant's gums after feedings. Wipe gums with a clean, damp cloth
or gauze pad. Parents should brush children's teeth daily with a soft wet toothbrush
and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Schedule a dental visit between 6
and 12 months of age and be sure to supervise your child's brushing to ensure proper
To prevent nursing bottle mouth, if you must give your baby a bottle at nap or bed
time, fill it with plain water and not milk, formula or juice.
Dental sealants can provide a further layer of protection against cavities. The
plastic coating is painted on the grooved chewing surfaces of the back teeth.
Your dentist may recommend regular fluoride treatments to strengthen enamel and
resist decay. Whenever possible, drink fluoridated water and always use an ADA-accepted