Congratulations on the arrival of your baby! Are you prepared for the arrival of your baby’s first tooth? Follow these suggestions and your baby will be on her way to a lifetime of healthy smiles!
Your child’s first primary or baby teeth will begin to erupt between the ages of six and 12 months, and will continue to erupt until about age three. During this time, your child’s gums may feel tender and sore. To help alleviate this discomfort, we recommend that you soothe the gums by rubbing a clean finger or a cool, wet cloth across them. You may also choose to make use of a teething ring. On occasssion, we may also recommend an age-appropriate dose of ibuprofen. When your child has finished teething, you can expect a total of 20 primary teeth.
Your child’s primary teeth are shed at various times throughout childhood, and their permanent teeth begin erupting at age six, and continue until age 21. Adults have 28 permanent teeth, 32 including wisdom teeth.
If your child’s first tooth has arrived, it’ time to schedule your first visit. Call our office at (301) 881-6170 or learn more about getting started with your first visit.
Although they don’t last as long as permanent teeth, your child’s first teeth play an important role in his development. While they’re in place, these primary teeth help your little one speak, smile and chew properly. They also hold space in the jaw for permanent teeth. If a child loses a tooth too early (due to damage or decay) nearby teeth may encroach on that space, which can result in crooked or misplaced permanent teeth. Also, your child’s general health is affected by the oral health of the teeth and gums.
Even before your baby’s first tooth appears, we recommend you clean his gums after feedings with a damp, soft washcloth. As soon as his first tooth appears, you can start using a toothbrush. Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head. You most likely can find a toothbrush designed for infants at your local drugstore.
As your child’s teeth erupt, be sure to examine them when you are brushing, looking for lines and discoloration that may be caused by decay. Remember that sugary foods and liquids can attack a new tooth, so take care that your child brushes after feeding or eating. We recommend brushing two times a day for optimal oral hygiene; in the morning and at bedtime.
Flossing is also a part of good oral hygiene habits, and your doctor will discuss with you the right time to start flossing. If you notice signs of decay, contact your dentist immediately.
Once your child has a few teeth, you can start using toothpaste on the brush. Use only a tiny amount for each cleaning. You should brush your child’s teeth for him until he is ready to take on that responsibility himself, which usually happens by age six or seven. When a few more teeth appear, you can start using toothpaste with your child’s brush. For the first two years, apply only a pea sized amount of toothpaste. If your child swallows a little bit of the toothpaste it will be incorporated into the forming adult teeth.
Don’t give your baby any sort of sweetened liquids such as flavored drinks or soda. Even the sugars present in fruit juice, formula, and milk (this goes for breast milk as well) can cause decay, so regular tooth and gum cleaning is vital. Also, try to avoid your baby going to bed with a bottle, sugary liquids in prolonged contact with her teeth promote early-childhood decay, also called baby-bottle caries.