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Children's dental health

Your infant’s health


Caring for your infant’s mouth


Your baby doesn't have teeth, but you should still clean his or her mouth. It is a good idea to get in the habit of cleaning your baby's gums soon after birth. Although there may be a little fussing at first, your infant will get used to having the mouth cleaned like other parts of the body. Many children grow to enjoy tooth brushing as part of their daily routine.




Between 3 and 9 months, your infant's baby teeth will begin to erupt (emerge into the mouth). The process starts with the lower two front teeth (incisors). Timing varies considerably among children. However, the order is very predictable.


Sucking habits


It is completely normal and healthy for your baby or young child to suck on a thumb, finger or pacifier. It's not something you need to be alarmed about or discourage. Sucking is a natural reflex. It's something your baby did in the womb.


Your child’s first dental visit


New parents often ask, "When should my child first see a dentist?"


The short answer is "First visit by first birthday." That's the view of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Pediatricians agree. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that children who are at risk of early childhood cavities visit a pediatric dentist by age 1.


The idea of such early dental visits is still surprising to many new parents. However, national studies have shown that preschool-aged children are getting more cavities. More than 1 in 4 children in the United States has had at least one cavity by the age of 4. Many kids get cavities as early as age 2.


Kids’ dental care


The primary teeth


When infants are born, almost all of their primary (baby) teeth already have formed.


These teeth are still hidden in the gums. They usually begin to erupt or cut through the gums at about six months of age. Some babies get teeth earlier, and some get them later. That's okay. Your one-year-old may have a different number of teeth than your neighbor's one-year-old.


Early childhood caries


Early childhood caries, or ECC, is a serious form of cavities. It can quickly destroy your child's teeth. In the past, it has been called baby bottle tooth decay, nursing caries or nursing bottle syndrome. ECC often occurs when your baby's teeth are exposed to sugars for long periods throughout the day.


The permanent teeth


Children typically start to lose their baby teeth and replace them with adult teeth when they are six or seven years old. Some children start losing teeth earlier. Others start later. The order that your child's teeth come in is more important than when they start to come in.

Legal notices

In Idaho, dental benefits and dental insurance plans are offered and/or underwritten by Aetna Life Insurance Company. In Texas, the Aetna Dental PPO insurance plan is underwritten by Aetna Life Insurance Company. For all other states, dental benefits and dental insurance plans are offered and/or underwritten by Aetna Health Inc., Aetna Dental Inc., Aetna Dental of California Inc. and/or Aetna Life Insurance Company (Aetna). Each insurer has sole financial responsibility for its own products.

Dental benefits and dental insurance plans contain exclusions and limitations.

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