This parent section is part of a book written by A/Prof. Richard P. Widmer and Professor Emeritus Gerald Z. Wright for the 20th Congress of the International Association of Dentistry Congress, Sydney, Australia. It was produced with support of the Colgate Palmolive Company. The material is not IAPD-endorsed nor does it reflect IAPD policies.
When will my child start getting second teeth?
The arrival of second teeth occurs at 6 years +/- 6 months. With the exception of the wisdom teeth, the last of the secondary teeth come in around 12 years of age.
Tooth eruption can be variable. Girls tend to get teeth earlier than boys. Variation has been observed between racial groups. In our experience, it is not so much the timing that is important as the sequence of tooth eruption. When individual teeth are delayed, this could indicate local problems. A good reason to see your dentist regularly is to have development supervised.
What can be done for my child who is still thumb sucking?
It is time to do something! Most experts think that by 6 years of age, when the second teeth start to come in, is the proper age to treat the habit.
We like to see the habit discontinued because it can push the new teeth into poor alignment. Finger sucking encourages the upper teeth to protrude. It also can be associated with poor speech, social stresses and other habits. These habits are treated with psychologically based programs and/or mouth appliances. Correction of the habit is sometimes not easy. Consult your dentist.
Why does my child have two rows of teeth?
The common site for this occurrence is in the lower front tooth region. It happens in 30% of children. The appearance of two rows of teeth is due to the second teeth coming in behind the baby teeth.
Your dentist should be consulted. An x-ray may be needed to determine how much of the root of the baby tooth remains. Sometimes the baby teeth need removal but in many cases they fall out after a few weeks.
Why does my child have a large space between the new front teeth?
A large space sometimes is noticed when the two upper front teeth come in. The easy answer is that this is a normal part of jaw development. As more teeth arrive, the space tends to close. When the eye teeth arrive near the teenage years, the space is usually closed. There can be other causes for space between front teeth and the area may need x-ray investigation by your dentist.
Do many children have missing teeth?
About 1 in 20 people have variations in the number of teeth. Some have extra teeth and some have missing teeth. Missing teeth are more common in the second teeth than in the baby set of teeth. Some people have numerous missing teeth. This is usually related to some type of condition. Some people only have one or two missing teeth. There may be no apparent reason for this occurrence or it may be something that other family members have as well.
Why do children need sealants?
When teeth first come into the mouth they are more at risk for tooth decay. The most common teeth sealed are the permanent molars. These molar teeth arrive about 6 years of age and often have deep grooves on the chewing surfaces. Tooth brushing cannot clean these grooves properly. Over the years it has been reported that many of these new molar teeth will get tooth decay. What the sealant does is stick to the tooth so that food cannot collect in the deep molar grooves. This prevents them decaying!
Does my child need a mouthguard for sports?
Mouthguards help lessen injuries to mouth and teeth. They are used in many sports where there is a possibility of injury. Some of these are - football, netball, hockey, skateboarding and basketball.
Mouthguards are best fitted from a mold of your child's teeth or they can be purchased commercially. The custom fitted mouthguard is a superior fit. This makes it easier for the child to talk wearing the appliance and it offers better protection. However, for a child in the 6 to 9 age bracket, teeth are constantly falling out and being replaced. It may be more practical for this age group to purchase the commercial guards. The more expensive fitted guards can be purchased when all the permanent teeth are in place. Note that mouthguards can be made for children wearing braces.
When do children begin to floss their own teeth?
Flossing teeth is difficult. Children acquire these abilities at different rates. Studies with 7 to 8 year olds have shown that many of the children do not have the ability to self-floss at this time. Consequently, at about 8 to 10 years of age we suggest that children can be introduced to self-flossing. Begin by learning to floss the front teeth. Then, when they can do this well, begin to floss in the back of the mouth. It is important not to have a child floss before they are ready. It frustrates them and then their cooperation will be lost.
It is important to floss correctly. Your dental team can help you learn.
If a child has bad baby teeth, will they have bad second teeth?
This does not have to be the case. To have dental decay we need teeth, germs in the mouth and sweet foods. If germs collect in large numbers and sweet foods are eaten regularly and allowed to remain in the mouth without being brushed away, we have a recipe for tooth decay. We have had many patients under our supervision that arrived with terrible baby teeth but did not get decay in their permanent teeth. It took a lifestyle change. Diet, proper mouth care, and regular dental visits are all important. So, bad second teeth do not have to follow bad baby teeth.
The process of decay has been described at the end of this booklet. This information may be helpful.