Kid’s Oral Health Series – Why are Baby teeth important and what you need to know about caring for them
You might not actually think about your baby needing much in the way of oral care. After all, their gummy little smiles don’t exactly make you think of brushing your teeth. According to the American Dental Association, baby teeth are very important to your child’s health and development. That’s why starting infants off with good oral care can help protect their teeth for decades to come. We’ll discuss your baby’s development of teeth and how to care for them here.
Baby’s First Teeth
When do babies get their first teeth?
This may surprise you but your baby’s teeth actually develop in utero, and your baby is born with 20 teeth below the gums! The process of teething, when the teeth make their way through the gums, usually begins around the age of 4-6 months to about one year of age, but it varies with every child. Some babies get their first teeth as young as 2 months of age, so it just depends. A baby’s front four teeth usually push through the gums at about 6 months of age, although some children don’t have their first tooth until 12 or 14 months. By the age of 3 most children will have their full set of teeth.
What order do babies get their teeth in?
Typically, the first teeth are the lower front teeth or lower central incisors. To see which teeth come in first and the usual order of appearance you can check out this baby teeth eruption chart.
Did you know?
Some babies are actually born with teeth? Though it is fairly rare it does still occur in 1 out of every 2,000 births. These are called natal teeth. Say cheese junior!
When and how should I clean my baby’s teeth? Is it important to clean my toddler or baby’s teeth?
You can begin cleaning your baby’s mouth as early as the first few days after birth by wiping the gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth. It is important to clean your baby’s teeth as soon as they appear as tooth decay can already occur. Continuing to take care of baby teeth in your toddler using a toothbrush for toddler’s and age appropriate toothpaste.
How to prevent tooth decay in your baby’s teeth
The worst offender for tooth decay in babies is what’s referred to as “bottle mouth.” According to KidsHealthy.org, putting a baby to sleep with a bottle might be convenient but it can harm the baby’s teeth. Sugars in juice or milk remain on a baby’s teeth for hours and can eat away at the enamel causing pocked, pitted, or discolored front teeth, all signs of bottle mouth. Kids with severe cases might develop cavities and need all of their front teeth pulled. KidsHealthy.org suggests that once past the infant stage parents and childcare providers help young kids set specific times for drinking each day because sucking on a bottle throughout the day can be equally damaging to young teeth.
Do baby teeth affect permanent teeth?
Yes. Baby teeth will help your child chew, speak and smile and they hold space in the jaws for permanent teeth growing beneath the gums. According to the ADA if a baby tooth is lost too early the permanent teeth can drift into the empty space and make it difficult for other adult teeth to find room when they come in. This can make teeth crooked or crowded.
When should I first take my child to the dentist?
As early as after the first tooth comes in and no later than after the child’s first birthday. A dental visit at an early age checks for cavities and other problems and can also show you how to properly clean your baby’s teeth, and address how to handle habits like thumb sucking.
How do I know if my baby’s teething?
Signs that your baby is teething include:
- Drooling- it’s like your baby has sprung a leak! (which can cause a facial rash)
- Swollen, sensitive gums.
- A tooth visible below the gum.
- Irritability or fussiness.
- Trouble sleeping.
- Trying to bite, chew, and suck on everything.
- Refusing to eat.
- Rubbing face and ears.
What can you do for teething babies to relieve discomfort?
Besides offering teething babies comfort and soothing them, there are other things you can do to ease them and you through this challenging time. The most common symptoms of teething are addressed below.
- Drooling: Bring out the bibs you got as baby shower gifts. Try to keep your baby as dry and comfortable as possible by changing bibs often and using receiving blankets to avoid teething rash. Sometimes a nursing cream that acts as a moisture barrier applied to the chin and neck can help.
- For aching gums and pain: Try a homeopathic remedy for teething such as Camilla which has ingredients for pain and calming, or an OTC pain reliever for infants. Talk to your baby’s doctor before giving them anything. Note: It is no longer recommended to put numbing agents on baby’s gums.
- Biting and chewing: Keep wash cloths, and teething rings in the fridge and give them to your baby as needed. According to Babycenter.com although the cool temperature brings relief to inflamed gums, you should avoid placing teething items in the freezer as extreme cold can irritate sore gums.
There you have it. All you need to know about your baby’s teeth. When you baby gets his/her first teeth it can be challenging but once the discomfort passes they will reward you with a toothy smile and it will all be worth it. Just remember to care for your baby’s teeth with infant toothpaste and a washcloth or brush as they get older and if you have questions don’t hesitate to contact us.
When you’re ready to make baby’s first dental appointment we’re here to help.