Caring for Infant Teeth
Believe it or not, baby teeth develop while babies are still in the womb! Newborns have a full set of 20 baby teeth hidden in their gums.
Teeth generally begin to appear between 6 and 10 months. In some children, teeth may appear as early as three months or as late as 12 months
Baby teeth can erupt in any order, but the central bottom teeth are often the first to show. All 20 baby teeth will usually have arrived by the time your child is 3 years old. The 32 adult teeth replace the baby teeth between ages 6 and 20.
The bane of parents everywhere! Yes, teething can cause extra tears or crankiness in your child, and he or she may not feed as well or may suck on play objects more often.
It’s always a good idea to have your child checked by his or her pediatrician if fever, diarrhea or vomiting occur when teething as there may be something else going on.
If not, try these tips to help your baby feel better:
- Gently rub baby’s gums with a clean finger
- Give baby something cold to bite on, like a cold (not frozen) teething ring or toothbrush
- Cook softer foods that require less chewing
- Provide something firm, like a teething biscuit, to suck on
Caring for baby’s teeth and gums
- A couple of times a day, gently wipe your baby’s gums using a damp, clean washcloth or gauze. This can also help your baby get ready for brushing when the first tooth arrives.
- As soon as teeth erupt, clean them twice a day – in the morning and before bed. Use a small, soft toothbrush designed for children under two years. If your baby doesn’t like the toothbrush, keep using the washcloth or gauze to wipe the front and back of each tooth.
- Use only water on the toothbrush until your baby is 18 months old. At that point you can use a very small dab (think grain of rice) of fluoride toothpaste. We don’t want the child to swallow too much fluoride toothpaste as it could lead to spots on permanent teeth.
- After cleaning your baby’s teeth and gums, rinse the toothbrush with tap water.
- Store the toothbrush upright in an open container to allow it to air dry.
- Replace toothbrushes every 3-4 months, or when the bristles get worn.
- After age 3, you can use a pea-size amount of toothpaste. Encourage your child to spit because they should not swallow excess amounts of fluoride toothpaste.
Preventing tooth decay
It’s never too soon to start preventing tooth decay in your child. Brushing helps, but it’s also important to follow these guidelines:
- Feed only breast milk or formula to babies aged 0-6 months
- Babies older than 6 months can have small amounts of water
- Never give baby sugary drinks, such as juice or soda, in their bottle or sippy cup
- Once you introduce solids, avoid foods high in sugar
- Don’t put your baby to sleep with a bottle – dripping milk and formula can lead to tooth decay
- Don’t dip pacifiers in honey, sugar or other sweet substances
Dr. Nick and team are happy to answer your questions about taking care of tiny teeth! Schedule your appointment today.