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A Timeline of How Your Child’s Teeth Will Change

From the very first tooth fairy visit, to a full set of permanent teeth, your child’s teeth go through an extensive development process throughout their adolescence. Knowing what to expect throughout your child’s dental development can keep their smile bright and healthy. That is why we at Arkansas Family Dental have drawn up this timeline of how your child’s teeth will change, to help you prepare for every stage, and know how to help them take care of their teeth to achieve their best smile.

Early Development

Most infants begin the teething process around their sixth month, which typically lasts until around their first birthday. Every child is different, but babies typically grow the top two and bottom two front teeth first. Teething can be very uncomfortable for little ones, and there are a variety of approaches to provide them comfort, such as teething rings and necklaces.

From the time your child has grown their first few teeth, you can introduce them to tooth brushing, so they can become familiar with the process. A finger brush or small soft toothbrush can be used to clean your baby’s adorable, blossoming smile. Since great oral health starts with the baby teeth, your pediatrician may recommend an early dental visit before their first birthday. This visit can allow the dentist to show you how to properly care for your baby’s teeth, and how to handle habits like thumb sucking. You can also ask your family dentist about things like when to introduce toothpaste to the brushing routine, and how much to use.

Their First Full Set

Most of your child’s twenty baby teeth, including their incisors and molars, should grow in from their first to third year. At this stage, you can begin to teach them how to form healthy habits like brushing and flossing regularly.

Children’s teeth should be brushed at least twice a day, but you can also begin flossing their teeth for them once a day, and even teach them how to do it on their own. If your little one wants to take the reins on their own dental hygiene, be sure to supervise the process, and encourage them not to swallow toothpaste.

Out with the Old…

Most children will lose their first baby tooth around 6 years of age, although the timing varies from child to child. If you are approaching this stage, you may be wondering what to expect when your child loses their first tooth. The teeth will typically fall out in the order in which they grew. For the majority of kids, the two bottom teeth and two top teeth will fall out first. These are known as the lower and upper central incisors, respectively. So if the thought of your cutie singing “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth” while waiting for the permanent teeth to appear fills you with excitement, this adorable milestone is one that you will want to take a lot of pictures of.

Thankfully, it is not painful for children to lose their baby teeth if they come out when they are ready. However, the time it takes a loose tooth to come out can vary greatly. In some cases, it may only take a few days; in others, it can take up to a few months. Children tend to wiggle their loose teeth, which encourages them to come out on their own at the right time. If your child wants you to pull the tooth out, you can firmly grasp it with a piece of tissue and quickly twist it to remove it. That said, most dentists recommend letting those wiggly ones come out on their own to prevent any damage.

Right after the tooth falls out, you can have your child gargle with some warm water to thoroughly rinse their mouth out to wash away any blood at the site of the newly missing tooth. From there, you get to be creative with the fun part of playing tooth fairy!

…In with the New

The rest of the baby teeth should fall out between 7 to 12 years of age, including the molars. It can take several months for a permanent tooth to grow in after the baby one is lost. If it takes more than six months, you may want to mention it to your child’s dentist so they can check the progress, and potentially refer you to an oral surgeon to evaluate the situation.


Through every stage of your child’s dental development, you can reinforce healthy oral habits by first teaching them how to brush their teeth twice a day, as well as explaining the importance of this routine. When they begin to lose their baby teeth, this is even more crucial, as is daily flossing. Encourage dental-healthy snacks that are low in sugar. Finally, promote a healthy mouth by having your child visit the dentist regularly.

If a healthy mouth was not reason enough, these daily hygiene habits are important to start early for the long term appearance of your child’s permanent teeth. If decay causes a baby tooth to come out too early, your child’s permanent teeth can grow in prematurely. If this occurs, it increases the chances that their permanent teeth will come in crooked, due to lack of space. An injury is less preventable, but can also be a cause of crooked permanent teeth. In fact, thirty percent of orthodontic needs originate from premature loss of baby teeth. Talk to your pediatric dentist about how to handle injuries, and how to stick to a plan that instills healthy habits to prevent tooth decay.

If you are seeking family dental services in Little Rock, make an appointment today with the friendly and caring staff at Arkansas Family Dental. You and your family’s dental health is important to us, and we want every visit to be a comfortable, positive experience that helps you achieve your best smile! Call us at 501-683-8886 for all your family dentistry needs.

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Samaria Mascagni

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