What to Expect: The Dental Milestone

Good oral health starts from the moment a child’s first tooth erupts

Every parent would be so eager to tick off a child’s milestone list; first roll over, first word, first solid, first step, first day of school. A child’s smile is also an important milestone in their life and it’s as important for parents to ensure that they are on the right track.

Beginning stage: Infant
Age 3 months: Signs of teething
Age 6 months: First ‘baby’ tooth
Age 1: First dental visit
Age 3: Complete set of primary teeth
Age 6: First permanent tooth – molars
Age 7: Loss of first baby tooth
Age 9: Early orthodontic assessment
Age 13: Complete set of permanent teeth
Age 14: Fixed braces treatment
Age 17: Wisdom teeth
Final stage: Adult


  • What is it?
    It is when the first tooth comes through the gums.
  • When?
    Usually between 6 months to a year but can be as early as 3 months.
  • Problem?
    You will notice the little one to drool more, have trouble sleeping and likes to bite, chew or put objects or fingers in the mouth. Your child might also be fussier and crankier due to the discomfort and some may develop an increase in temperature.
  • What to do?
    Giving your child a cold teething toy or massage the gums with clean fingers; the pressure might help soothe the aching gum.

Once the first tooth appears, use an infant-sized toothbrush with a smear of a children’s toothpaste to keep teeth cavity free and mouth healthy.

The American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend scheduling a child’s first dental visit at or near his or her first birthday

Increased risk of caries as the chewing surfaces on back teeth are more likely to trap food and bacteria compared to other tooth with smooth surfaces.


  • What is it?
    When all 20 baby teeth have fully erupted in the mouth.
  • When?
    By the age of 3.
  • Problem?
    • The last baby tooth to cut through the gums are the molars and these can be quite painful for the child. A child may resort to thumb-sucking as a way to relieve discomfort.
    • At this stage, early childhood caries may be apparent if the child takes a bottle to sleep.
  • What to do?
    • Managing teething pain by applying pressure on the gums with a clean finger or giving the child a cold teething toy.
    • Prevent caries by adopting healthy oral hygiene habits; brushing twice daily with fluoridated children toothpaste and keep sippy cups or bottles out of the mouth at naptime.


  • What is it?
    The first adult tooth to appear in the mouth are the first molars. It erupts behind the last primary molars without replacing any of the primary teeth.
  • When?
    Typically erupts at the age of 6.
  • Problem?
    • Pain is common as the molar cuts through the gums.
    • Increased risk of caries as the chewing surfaces on back teeth are more likely to trap food and bacteria compared to other tooth with smooth surfaces.
  • What to do?
    Fissure sealants are often advised for newly erupted first molars to prevent and protect these teeth from caries.

Fissure Sealant
A sealant is a protective plastic coating, which is applied to the biting surfaces of the back teeth.

The sealant forms a hard shield that keeps food and bacteria from getting into the tiny grooves in the teeth and causing decay.


  • What is it?
    When the baby teeth becomes loose and comes out naturally or due to an impact or caries.
  • When?
    A baby tooth is replaced with a permanent adult tooth at the age of 6-7 years, in the same order as they erupt in the mouth. This means the first baby tooth to be replaced is usually the lower center teeth.
  • Problem?
    • Overlapping permanent and retained primary teeth.
    • Losing a tooth during contact sports/fall.
  • What to do?
    • Regular dental visit would enable early detection of any dental issues. Your dentist would advise if a retained baby tooth needs to be taken out to allow the permanent tooth to grow.
    • The use of mouth guards during contact sports would help prevent dental injury. It helps cushion a blow to the face, minimizing the risk of broken teeth and injuries to the lips, tongue, face or jaw.


  • What is it?
    It is when all 28 permanent teeth, excluding wisdom teeth, have erupt in the mouth.
  • When?
    Usually around 13-15 years of age. Wisdom teeth usually erupt between 17 and 25 years of age. They can, however, erupt many years later.
  • Problem?
    • Pain during eruption of the tooth as it cuts through the gum.
    • Overcrowding, overbite, underbite of the permanent teeth.
    • Spacing in between teeth due to missing permanent teeth.
  • What to do?
    • Regular dental visit is important. During examination, the dentist are able to point out any dental related problems early.
    • Early orthodontic evaluation can be done at around 9 years of age to recognize alignment issues and in certain cases, early correction can be done.

Prevention is better than cure. See your dentist every 6 months or at least once a year to maintain good oral health and dental problem free.