Dentistry
Cosmetic
Product Reviews
NewMouth is reader supported. We may earn a commission if you purchase something using one of our links. Advertising Disclosure.

Childhood Dental Care: Common Conditions & Treatment Options

Alyssa Hill Headshot
Written by
Alyssa Hill
Medically Reviewed by 
Dr. Lara Coseo
6 Sources Cited

Dental Care Basics for Children (5-13 yrs)

As a baby transitions into childhood, oral care needs to change. This is because the risk of developing cavities increases with age.

The risk of gum disease, such as gingivitis, and dental pulp infections, is also higher.

Between six and 13 years, primary teeth fall out, and permanent teeth begin to grow in. This time is when children should learn healthy oral hygiene habits to keep their mouths in tip-top shape as they grow into adulthood.

Losing Baby Teeth

All primary (baby) teeth should erupt between six months to two to three years of age. They shed at different times throughout childhood, beginning around age six.

As baby teeth fall out, permanent teeth start to erupt around the same time, around age six. They fully grow in by age 13.

When a child’s dentition consists of some primary teeth and newly erupted permanent teeth, it is called the “mixed dentition phase.”4

Wisdom teeth are also referred to as third molars. Wisdom teeth should erupt between 17 and 25 years of age. Although, dentists typically remove third molars before age 20.

The standard chronology of permanent dentition is as follows:

timeline of primary teeth eruption

6 Tips to Teach Your Child About Dental Health

During the “mixed dentition” phase, children should take extra care of their teeth. This ensures the newly erupted permanent teeth are healthy.

Good oral hygiene practices to teach your children include:

  1. Brushing the permanent teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day.
  2. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush to ensure tooth enamel doesn’t get damaged over time.
  3. Flossing between teeth to remove dental plaque at least once a day.
  4. Rinsing the mouth with mouthwash once a day.
  5. Drinking fluoridated tap water to reduce the chance of cavity development.
  6. Visiting a pediatric dentist or family dentist at least twice a year. This is for routine teeth cleanings, x-rays, professional fluoride treatment, and exams.

Common Dental Conditions in Children & Treatment Options

Common oral health conditions that affect children include:

Early Childhood Caries (ECC)

Children are prone to developing early childhood caries (ECC). This is especially in primary teeth.

Baby tooth enamel is more fragile than permanent tooth enamel. ECCs begin as white spots on the teeth. Over time, the spots turn brown or black.5

Cavities most commonly appear on the biting surfaces of primary molars.

Common causes of cavities include:

  • Poor nutrition
  • Low fluoride consumption
  • Bad oral hygiene
  • Dry mouth

Even though primary teeth fall out at a young age, it is essential to take care of them.

If children develop cavities in their baby teeth, the bacteria can affect the permanent teeth once they erupt into the mouth. This bacteria makes them more susceptible to decay.

Dental Fillings

Dental fillings are the most common restorative treatment option for minor cavities in primary and permanent teeth.

Treatment options include the following fillings:

  • Composite
  • Amalgam
  • Glass
composite cavity filling NewMouth

Dental Crowns

Stainless steel crowns are typically used to restore primary teeth with large cavities.

Dental crowns are typically used to restore permanent teeth with large cavities.

Types of dental crowns include:

  • Porcelain-fused-to-metal
  • Gold alloys
  • Ceramic crowns
dental crowns NewMouth

Tooth Extractions and Space Maintainers

Teeth may need to be extracted due to:

  • Decay
  • Trauma
  • Other oral health conditions

However, if a primary tooth is removed prematurely, space maintainers are typically placed. Space maintainers ensure the permanent teeth grow in the correct position.6

Space maintainers prevent the misalignment of teeth and overcrowding.

Last updated on April 19, 2022
6 Sources Cited
Last updated on April 19, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Berg, Joel H., and Rebecca L. Slayton. Early Childhood Oral Health. Wiley Blackwell, 2016.
  2. Koch Göran, et al. Pediatric Dentistry: a Clinical Approach. John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2017.
  3. Nowak, Arthur J. Pediatric Dentistry: Infancy through Adolescence. Elsevier, 2019.
  4. Dugoni, S A. “Comprehensive mixed dentition treatment.” American journal of orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics : official publication of the American Association of Orthodontists, its constituent societies, and the American Board of Orthodontics vol. 113,1 : 75-84
  5. Anil, Sukumaran, and Pradeep S Anand. “Early Childhood Caries: Prevalence, Risk Factors, and Prevention.” Frontiers in pediatrics vol. 5 157. 18 Jul. 2017
  6. Setia, Vikas et al. “Space maintainers in dentistry: past to present.” Journal of clinical and diagnostic research : JCDR vol. 7,10 : 2402-5
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram