When you become a parent for the first time, there are so many new things to learn and discover. Even if you were to read every single book on parenting prior to the baby’s arrival, you would still find yourself wandering in the wilderness and asking simple questions like: When do kids get teeth?

The process of getting baby teeth, shedding baby teeth and welcoming permanent teeth is a long one. Through the process, you’ll experience the pains of teething, the loss of a first tooth, visits from the tooth fairy and much more.

To help you navigate this process as smoothly and expertly as possible, here’s a look at when kids get teeth — and how to care for those baby teeth during the few short years they’re around.

A Timeline for Baby Teeth

Your child should get 20 baby teeth, which will someday be replaced by 32 adult teeth. When do they arrive? And when do they fall out? Here’s the timeline:

6 Months to 3 Years

Your child starts to get his or her teeth. They typically appear in front, with most first teeth appearing on the bottom half of the jaw. That said, all children are different, and yours may find that other teeth come in first.

Of course, when teeth start coming in, your child will start to feel a great deal of pain. Known as “teething,” this process is marked by your child’s irritability and lack of sleep. You may also find that he or she is beginning to gnaw on things, such as the railing of a crib.

Try using wet, cool cloths or gauze to provide a little bit of relief. You can also find teething tablets and other over-the-counter remedies that may help.

Ages 3 to 6

By age 3, your child should have a mouth full of baby teeth. Congrats! No more teething and trying to deal with the symptoms of teething.

At this point, it’s essential that your child begin to properly care for his or her teeth. Why? There are a number of reasons, including:

  • Avoiding Crooked Teeth: Baby teeth are essentially placeholders for adult teeth to come. If they aren’t properly cared for, they may fall out early. And, if they fall out early, there’s a greater chance of permanent teeth coming in crooked.
  • Learning How to Eat and Speak: Healthy teeth are also essential to your child learning how to eat, speak and even smile. Believe it or not, teeth are vital to your child developing a number of social skills that will be important in the future.
  • Establishing Strong Habits: Perhaps the most important reason why you should help your child care for his or her baby teeth is to establish strong habits. If your child gets into the groove of brushing for 2 minutes twice a day, that’s a powerful habit to carry into the future.

Also, remember that you’re not just caring for temporary teeth — you’re also caring for gums that your child will have forever. Make sure they are properly taken care of.

Your child should start visiting the dentists as early as the appearance of first baby teeth. If you don’t visit a dentist in those early years, certainly begin to do so by age 3.

Ages 6 to 13

Why do children only get 20 baby teeth but 32 permanent teeth? Because baby teeth don’t include any molars. In fact, your first permanent teeth are your first molars, which appear around age 6 or 7.

After those molars appear, adult teeth start to erupt like crazy, pushing out the baby teeth above them. The tooth fairy gets extra busy during this time.

And here’s an interesting quirk about losing teeth: They tend to fall out in the same order that they appeared. For example, if a child’s first tooth was in the front part of the lower jaw, expect that tooth to fall out first.

By age 13, your child should have a mouth full of permanent teeth. But what about the last 4? Adults have 32 teeth, right? That’s right. But third molars (better known as wisdom teeth) don’t appear until 17 at the earliest. Only then will your child have a full set of 32 adult teeth.

How to Care for Baby Teeth

Let’s assume you agree caring for baby teeth is important. What then are the best ways to care for these temporary teeth?

Brushing is the best place to start. Children should be brushing for 2 minutes twice a day. Children under 3 should use just a tiny bit of fluoride toothpaste, and children over 3 should use a little bit more. It’s always a good idea for parents to supervise brushing to ensure that a child is using proper technique.

One of the challenges for children in using proper technique is their lack of motor skills. For that reason, it’s a good idea to get an electric toothbrush for children. An electric toothbrush often comes with a built-in timer that walks a child through brushing each of the 4 quadrants of the mouth. An electric toothbrush makes the round brushing motions that children struggle to replicate using traditional toothbrushes.

If you need recommendation, we recently wrote about the best electric toothbrush for kids. Check it out and take advantage of current deals on our top picks.

Take Care of Those Teeth

Kids don’t understand the importance of caring for their teeth. As parents, it’s up to us to share with them just how essential oral care is, and it’s also up to us to teach them the proper techniques and routines for caring for teeth.

Now that you know when to expect baby teeth to come in, when to expect them to fall out, and when to expect permanent teeth to arrive, you can help your child develop powerful habits that will serve them well forever and always.

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