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2-4 Years

Between the ages of 2 and 4, your child's dental development changes, with molars erupting & new eating patterns potentially affecting their oral health.

Between the ages of 2 and 4, your child will quickly leave babyhood behind. They’ll begin walking or even running around and their personalities will emerge bright and strong.

They will learn to interact with other kids as they begin daycare, enjoy family visits, play at local parks or enjoy early reading time at the local library. It’s an exciting time, including for their dental development.


While teething slows down for kids aged 2-4, they still experience some significant milestones during this period:

20-31 Months: Lower second molars erupt

25-33 Months: Upper second molars erupt

By Age 3: All 20 of your toddler’s primary (baby) teeth should have erupted

During these 2 years, your child will also likely get to the point at which they eat only solid foods. Sadly, this is also the age range during which early childhood tooth decay is rising most quickly in Canada.


So, how best to care for your little one’s baby teeth, to help prevent tooth decay and the discomfort, eating, sleeping and other behavioural and health problems it can cause?

There are 4 things to keep in mind: daily preventative care, regular checkups with the dentist, nutrition and behaviours that may affect bite.


Between ages 2 and 3, parents and caregivers should still be brushing their children’s teeth for them. As well:

  • Before 30 month mark, use only water for morning brush and a grain of rice-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste for night-time brushing.
  • At around 2.5 years, you can progress to brushing with a rice-sized grain for morning and night brushing
  • When they’re around 3 years old, encourage your child to try morning brushing on their own, but supervise them to make sure they’re cleaning all their teeth, they don’t swallow any toothpaste and to help them develop their technique. Night-time brushing and flossing has to be done by the parent with the use of a half-pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
  • Brush your own teeth more often. If your little one sees you brushing your teeth, they’ll be much more likely to adopt great dental care habits of their own.

Check out our Prevention page, which contains more information about brushing frequency and proper technique.

Nutrition & Snacking

Making sure your young ones get enough calories can sometimes be quite difficult; parents and caregivers of picky eaters may understandably be grateful when their kids eat anything. But what they eat and learn to enjoy between the impressionable ages of 2 and 4 can have long-term effects on their dental health.

Balancing your little one’s nutritional and dental health needs against the realities of their limited or constantly changing tastes will always be a negotiation, but try to keep the following in mind:

  • Stick as closely as possible to the Canada Food Guide and encourage your kids to sample from each of its categories every day
  • Avoid giving them foods, either at meals or for snacks, that are high in sugar but low in nutritional value, or that tend to get stuck between their teeth

For suggestions about which foods to encourage your kids to eat and which to avoid, as well as strategies to help them develop healthy eating habits, visit our Nutrition page.

Visiting the Dentist

Even though 2-4-year-olds are experiencing more and more tooth decay, less than 2% of 2-year-olds in Canada have been to a dentist even once.

If you haven’t yet taken your little one to see a dentist, don’t fret—but don’t wait either. Because they’re now eating mostly or only solid food, their chances of developing early childhood tooth decay are rising exponentially.

Early childhood tooth decay may be the most common childhood disease in Canada, but it is also one of the most preventable.

Your pediatric dentist can detect and treat any potentially catastrophic problems early, make sure your children’s brushing and flossing techniques are effective, and help them become comfortable receiving regular clinical care — which will make it easier to help them achieve lifelong dental and oral well-being.


Thumb-sucking is a natural behaviour among young children, but if it continues too long, it can negatively affect the position and placement of both their baby teeth and the permanent, adult teeth that will replace them.

Prolonged thumb-sucking can also affect how children’s upper and lower jaws align; if misalignment results and is severe, it might require orthodontic treatment to correct.

Oftentimes, kids will stop sucking on their own by age 4-5. However, if your child is still sucking their thumb regularly, with no sign of stopping, by their fourth birthday, talk to your pediatric dentist. They can help your child break the habit, as well as check for any tooth placement or bite problems that may have already begun.

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We are your children's pediatric dental specialists in Southwest Calgary. 

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