The general pattern of eruption is that the two middle upper and lower teeth (central incisors) come in first. They are followed by the teeth next to them, the lateral incisors. The cuspids (or canines) follow, then the first and second molars. By the time your child is 3 years old, he or she will have a full set of 20 primary teeth. Here are the approximate ages when primary teeth make their appearance:
Upper Teeth Lower Teeth
Central Incisors 8 - 12 months 6 - 10 months
Lateral Incisors 9-13 months 10 to 16 months
Cuspids (Canines) 16 - 22 months 17 to 23 months
First Molars 13 to 19 months 14 to 18 months
Second Molars 25 to 33 months 23 to 31 months
3. Baby's dental cavities are worth fixing.
It's tempting to think that since your child's baby teeth are going to fall out eventually, there's no need to spend the time or money to fill cavities. But don't be fooled! Infection from decayed baby teeth can damage the permanent teeth developing under them. And cavities only stay pain-free for so long -- at some point, your little one may be hurting. Plus, an untreated dental cavity could become more severe, requiring a root canal or tooth extraction.
4. Dental care for baby starts early.
Your child is at risk for tooth decay as soon as the first tooth appears. That means protecting the health of baby teeth starts much earlier than you might think -- before the first teeth even emerge! After each feeding, wipe your baby's gums with a clean, damp washcloth or a clean gauze pad. Once the first tooth appears, start brushing! Use a small, soft-bristled toothbrush twice a day. To prevent dental fluorosis, use fluoride-free toothpaste, a pea-sized amount of paste or just water. Add flossing to your routine as soon as there are spaces where two teeth are close together.
5. Your child should visit a dentist by age 1.
That may sound too early, but it's not! Your child's first dental visit will probably be short -- it's just a chance for the dentist to count teeth and spot any early signs of trouble. You may choose to see a pediatric dentist who specializes in working with kids, although many general dentists are also comfortable seeing children.
Even if you take pristine care of your child's teeth, cavities can still happen. A great dentist can help make sure your little one's baby teeth stay in tip-top shape.