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While there might be a few babies born with one or two teeth in their mouth, most are born with none. As your child grows and develops they will have 20 teeth erupt from your child’s gums. These primary teeth, more commonly known as baby teeth, start to become loose and fall out as their jaw continues to grow. This makes room for the permanent teeth that will serve them for the rest of their lives.

Advanced tooth decay might result in the dentist having to extract a tooth before it is ready to come out naturally. This can lead to alignment issues later when the permanent teeth emerge.

Early on most parents opt to simply floss their child’s teeth and brush their teeth for them without using toothpaste. Around 12 to 18-months old your child should have enough manual dexterity to brush their own teeth and have the ability to spit out excess toothpaste.

There are several brands of child-safe toothpastes you can choose from, finding a flavor that your child likes will encourage regular use. Try to choose a brand with the ADA Seal of Acceptance for safety and effectiveness. A brand with added fluoride is also a good way to strengthen tooth enamel.

Because a child’s mouth is smaller you may need to use your pinky fingers to reach their molars. When a child can start to floss their own teeth will vary from child to child. Attitude and fine motor dexterity are usually the two primary factors that will influence success. A simple floss stick is easy for a child to hold to help them get started. Just make sure they understand not to force the floss or snap it into their gums.