This is a frequently asked question by many parents. The short answer is there are numerous milestone ages that are key to good oral health along with smile and face development.
Bring kids to the dentist in their first year of life
You may be surprised to learn that we dentists like to meet your child for the first time before they turn one. You can bring them to a dedicated appointment or to your own oral health appointment and we’ll allow some extra time to assess them too.
We believe, based on emerging science, that it’s important to assess infants mouth structure and function. Particularly related to feeding, breathing and sleep habits. It’s also an opportunity to chat to you as parents in more depth about diet and lifestyle habits that can impact oral health in kids and their risk of tooth decay in particular.
Up until school age, bringing kids along to your own or a sibling’s oral health checks once or twice a year is a great way to normalise the dental environment and experience for them so they’re comfortable when preventive dental care starts.
When kids lose their front teeth it’s time to for dentists to view the new ones
As children start primary school they begin to lose their baby front teeth, making way for new adult teeth. You may not realise that the first adult molar teeth also erupt in the back corners of their mouth at about the same time. These teeth ideally need to last for the rest of their lives – likely to be 90+ years these days!
To help the molar teeth especially, we like to complete a preventive treatment called ‘fissure sealants’. These seal the deep grooves in these main chewing teeth, making it much easier to keep them clean in young mouths and reducing the risk of tooth decay starting in the grooves where toothbrush bristles can’t always get to.
Growing faces and jaws may start to show signs of crowding or misalignment at kindergarten age too. We like to do a thorough check and if needed, start therapy to reduce the likelihood for things like braces or teeth extractions later on.
Rapid growth spurts and more independent cleaning mean the mouth can change rapidly over the primary school years, so please bring your kids for a dental check every 6-12 months.
Heading to high school and kids smiles benefit from regular dental visit visits
The last of the adult teeth except for the wisdom teeth come through in the first year or two of high school. Preventive care like more fissure sealants is important for the molar and premolar teeth. Harnessing growth spurts to maximise teeth, jaw and face alignment is highly desirable for future good health, function and aesthetics.
Often braces or clear aligner treatments are carried out during these years.
Inspiring effective teeth cleaning during your child’s teenage years is often a challenge! Sparking the balance between active encouragement and motivation while avoiding nagging is an art to be mastered that can be as variable as the people involved. Suggestions and success stories welcome!
Six-monthly visits to the dental hygienist are highly recommended.
Finishing school and teen faces mature
Most intervention treatments are now completed: braces are off, retainers are often in, teeth are all erupted, even wisdom teeth may start appearing anywhere from now till the mid-twenties for many.
In some cases jaw surgery can be indicated towards the end of major growth, or to proactively deal with poorly positioned wisdom teeth.
Oral care gets easy from here and becomes the primary responsibility of your young adult: to maintain good home oral care habits; at least yearly visits to the dentist to help avoid problems like dental decay and keep smiles tip top as your kids enter the workforce.
Hats off! Well done! You and your kids have made it!