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Stages of Oral Development: 2 - 4 Years of Age

Stages of Oral Development: 2 - 4 Years of Age

When children are between the 2 and 4, teething continues with the eruption of molars, and new eating patterns can have an impact children’s oral health.

During this time in your child’s development, you’ll find yourself shocked at how quickly your baby grows! You’ll find they’re suddenly walking, or even running around, and their personalities will begin to shine through in earnest.

This is a busy and exciting time in your child’s development, and that goes for his or her dental development perspective as well.


Teething slows down a bit by this stage, butyour child will still go through some significant tooth development, particularly when it comes to the eruption of molars.

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


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

Particularly if you have a picky eater, it can be a bit difficult to make sure children get enough calories and nutrients at this age. But by providing a variety of nutritionally dense, tasty snacks, you will set your child on the path to a lifetime of healthy, wholesome eating habits.

It will also help your child grow strong and healthy teeth.

If you need some guidance, follow the Canadian Food Guide as closely as possible, and make sure your child is getting something from each category, everyday.

And generally, avoid giving your toddler foods that are high in sugar or acids.

Oral Care

All these changes in eating habits can mean that tooth decay can quickly become more of an issue.

If you haven't started yet, now is a good time to begin visiting the dentist with your child regularly every 6 months.

Between the ages of 2 and 3, parents or caregivers should continue to brush children’s teeth for them.

Before the the 30 month mark, use only water and a soft, child-sized toothbrush or damp cloth. Once your child is around 2.5 - 3 years old, you can start introducing tiny amounts of toothpaste.

Initially, don't use more than a pea-sized dab of toothpaste, and increase the amount slowly. Most children have only just begun eating a more varied diet at this point, so the taste of toothpaste might be a little too strong for their developing taste buds. Fortunately, most pharmacies sell toothpastes in milder, child-friendly flavours, that you can start with.

Around 3 years of age, you can teach your children to brush on their own, with careful supervision and guidance. Be sure they’re cleaning all of their teeth, and that they aren’t swallowing any tooth paste.

Finally, be sure to lead by example and brush and floss your own teeth thoroughly and on a regular basis. If your child sees you doing this, he or she will want to follow suit!

Download the FREE SmileTown Kids' Activity Booklet.

A great resource to help get your kids ready – and excited – to visit the dentist.

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