Stages of Oral Development: 2 - 4 Years of Age

Posted Jan 20th, 2016 in Helpful Tips for Parents, General Information

Stages of Oral Development: 2 - 4 Years of Age

Between the ages of 2 and 4, teething continues with the eruption of molars, and new eating habits can have a potential impact children’s oral health.


At this point in your child’s development, you’ll find yourself amazed at how quickly your baby becomes a full blown child! During this time, toddlers will suddenly be walking, or even running around, and their personalities will begin to really shine through.

This is a busy period in your child’s development, and this is true from a dental development perspective as well.

Teething

Although teething slows down a little during this stage, your child will still go through some significant tooth development, in particular when it comes to molars eruption.

  • By 20-31 months, the lower second molars will erupt
  • By 25-33 months, the upper second molars will erupt
  • And by the time your child is reaches the age of 3, all 20 of his or her primary (baby) teeth will have erupted.

Nutrition

Between the 2 and 4, your child will likely also begin eating primarily solid foods.

Considering that children can be fairly pick eaters at this age, it can sometimes quite tricky to make sure they get all the calories and nutrients they need. However, providing a variety of nutritionally dense, tasty snacks available can set your child on the path to a lifetime of healthy, adventurous eating habits.

It will also help your child grow strong and healthy, and that goes for his or her teeth, too!

Follow the Canadian Food Guide as closely as possible if you need some guidance, and try to give your child something from each category, everyday.

And as a general rule, avoid giving your toddler foods that are high in sugar.

Oral Care

As a result of all these changes in eating habits, tooth decay can become a more significant issue rather quickly.

Begin visiting the dentist with your child regularly every 6 months now, if you haven’t already started.

Between 2 and 3, parents or caregivers should continue brushing and flossing children’s teeth for them.

Before the the 30 month point, you can clean your child's teeth with only water and a soft, damp cloth, or a child-sized toothbrush. Starting when your child is around 2.5 - 3 years old, you can begin to introduce tiny amounts of toothpaste.

When starting out with toothpaste, use no more than a pea-sized dab, and increase the amount gradually. Most children have just begun eating a more varied diet at this point, so the taste of toothpaste can be a little overwhelming for their developing taste buds. Most pharmacies sell toothpastes in milder flavours for children, so you might try some of those to start with.

Around 3 years of age, children can begin trying out brushing their own teeth (with careful supervision and guidance, of course). Make sure they’re cleaning all their teeth thoroughly, and that they aren’t swallowing the tooth paste.

And finally, lead by example and brush and floss your own teeth regularly and thoroughly. If your child sees you taking time and care in brushing and flossing, he or she will want to follow suit!

Download our FREE SmileTown Children's Activity Booklet.

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