Did you know oral care starts before your little one’s first tooth ever emerges? Maintaining a healthy mouth before that first tooth ever comes in sets up your baby for good oral care throughout their life.
This guide will show you how to care for your baby’s growing teeth so you both enjoy healthy smiles together for years to come.
The Beginning: Oral Care from Birth To Six Months Old
A baby has 20 primary teeth (also fittingly called baby teeth) already present in their jaw at birth. These teeth usually begin to come through (also called erupting) the gums at around ages 4 to 6 months. Most children will have a full set of their baby teeth by the time they are 3 years old.
Tooth Decay: A Childhood Disease
Tooth decay is the most common disease among children and can stay with them for their entire life. Children of any age can get tooth decay, even babies. Even though they are temporary, your child’s baby teeth are very important, and are still very susceptible to cavities.
Tooth decay in infants and toddlers is referred to as baby bottle tooth decay and cavities are also called caries in toddlers. It is important to start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as they start to come in.
It is also recommended for you to take your baby to the dentist when the first tooth comes in as well. If their first tooth has not erupted by 11 months or so, make sure to take them in for a visit before their first birthday. Your dentist screens for much more than just cavities and they can make sure your child’s mouth and jaw are developing properly, looking healthy and on track to house all of the teeth about to erupt.
Tips to Help Avoid Tooth Decay in Babies and Toddlers
- Never put your baby to bed with a bottle, even if it is breast milk or formula as that can still lead to tooth decay.
- Keep your baby’s gums and teeth clean, and brush daily once their first tooth emerges.
- Avoid giving your baby bottles filled with anything sweet, like juice or soda.
- Don’t dip pacifiers in honey or sugar.
- Wipe your baby’s gums clean with a clean, wetted gauze pad or washcloth after every feeding before sleep.
Baby Teeth: Temporary But Important
Your child’s baby teeth are crucial for several reasons. They help your baby chew, smile and speak. Baby teeth hold space in your baby’s jaw for the permanent teeth that are growing and getting ready to come in beneath their gums.
They also facilitate healthy chewing, which helps strengthen jaw and face muscles. Primary teeth are very important to your baby’s development and they help you see the progress your baby is making throughout their growth into becoming a toddler, like eating solid foods, learning to speak and pronounce words.
Make sure you are always brushing your baby’s teeth the same amount as you brush yours. Even at a very early age, seeing the routine parents create for themselves makes a big impact.
Baby to Toddler: What to Expect As Teeth Come In
From the time your child gets their first tooth until age 3, make sure you are brushing their teeth gently twice a day with a small, child size toothbrush and a small among of ADA-recommended fluoride toothpaste (the size of a grain of rice is sufficient.)
For children ages 3-6, you can start brushing with a pea size amount twice daily. Always make sure your child is spitting out the toothpaste and not swallowing it, as ingesting too much toothpaste could give them a stomach ache. When your child finally has two teeth that touch, that’s when you can begin teaching them how to floss daily. Be sure to show them the proper way to floss so they don’t hurt their gums when they begin to floss, themselves.
Teething: Relieve Baby and Toddler Discomfort
As primary teeth come in, your baby might show signs of discomfort. Here are some way you can help alleviate their pain:
- A cold teething ring or clean washcloth to chew on.
- Rub your baby’s gums with a washed and clean finger.
- Over-the-counter baby Tylenol or similar. Always talk with your doctor before giving your baby any over the counter medicine.
Professional and Caring Pediatric Dentistry for Any Age
At Chillicothe Pediatric Dentistry, we are determined to give your child the highest quality dental treatment and we know they need a caring dentist with a gentle touch. We are happy to answer any questions about your child’s incoming teeth or any issues you may have.
Whether your child needs primary, preventative, restorative or surgical dental care, our skilled and compassionate team are here for your children. Chillicothe Pediatric Dentistry takes pride in providing the best dental care for children in Ross County and its surrounding areas. Call our offices to speak with one of our helpful staff members and book an appointment today!