The first little white pearls that erupt from your baby’s gums are the beginning of a lifetime of smiles. However, this special milestone brings along additional responsibilities when caring for your little one. From birth, and especially as you begin transforming your child’s diet with healthy, flavorful solids, daily tooth and gum care becomes a necessity to prevent tooth decay and protect oral health. While baby teeth are tiny, they can be tricky to understand. Keep reading for everything you need to know from how to help a teething baby to brushing baby’s teeth.
One day your kiddo has perfect pinkish gums and within months, baby teeth break the surface. It happens quickly, usually starting between four to six months old and continuing for two to three years. This is because babies are actually born with teeth beneath their gums. It’s just a matter of time until they break through to begin forming that sweet smile in a process called eruption. The first teeth to make their debut are likely to be the incisors at the front of the bottom of your baby’s mouth. Keep an eye out so you can celebrate the special moment!
As teeth continue to pop up, it can be uncomfortable. You might notice your baby has swollen or red gums, more irritability, drooling, decreased appetite and even them using their mouth to chew on things. These symptoms will likely occur for three to four days for each new tooth that appears. If symptoms last much longer or include other, more serious signs, like diarrhea, fever, or crying that you cannot console, talk to your pediatrician as there could be a different problem requiring medical attention. Either way, once those first teeth start to erupt, before one year old, it is time to visit the dentist!
It can be troubling to see your little one going through the difficult teething process. But not to worry, there are plenty of practices that can help soothe them. Common pediatrician-recommended methods include using cooling techniques such as a frozen wet cloth for them to chew on or cold foods, as well as toys, rings, and biscuits specifically designed for teething babies. Avoid using topical, oral, or herbal medicinal remedies for your baby without consulting a pediatrician first. If you are unsure of the safety of any method, always ask your pediatrician or pediatric dentist on how to help a teething baby safely.
So, a tiny tooth has finally appeared! This begs the question, when to start brushing baby teeth? The truth is, tooth decay can start as soon as teeth break the surface. The tooth’s protective layer, or enamel, of baby teeth is thinner, making them more prone to cavities than adult teeth. This happens when bacteria in the mouth digests sugar, converts it to acid, and creates a hole in the tooth through a process of erosion. These pockets of tooth decay can spread and even cause infections in the adult teeth beneath the surface. So, as soon as you see the first signs of eruption, it is time to get ready to brush and floss your baby’s teeth.
Did you know that babies are not actually born with cavity-causing bacteria? That’s right! When parents share utensils, cups, kisses, or otherwise transfer bacteria to their baby through their mouth it can be passed along to their baby. So you can actually protect your kiddo from cavities by reducing sharing and keeping your own dental hygiene up! Not to mention, as your child grows, it can be incredibly helpful to have them get in the habit of watching you brush and floss so they can learn the importance and skill behind proper oral care.
Taking care of baby teeth correctly is vital for proper nutrition, speech development, and creating a healthy home for their future adult smile. As soon as birth, gums and tongue should be cared for with a clean, damp gauze pad, finger brush, or cloth wiped around after meals and before bedtime. Once that first tooth appears and it’s time to start brushing your baby’s teeth. You can start with a baby toothbrush with soft bristles (no more than three rows) and a rice sized amount of baby-safe fluoride toothpaste for kids under two years old and a pea size amount for kids two through six. Change out your baby’s toothbrush at least every three months to maintain proper cleanliness and help avoid bacteria buildup. And don’t forget to start flossing right away!
As your child grows, ensure teeth are brushed at least twice a day for two minutes once in the morning, once before bedtime, and after eating any sweets. Be sure to help them learn the technique, using child safe brushes and paste, working at a 45-degree angle. Remember that it can take awhile for them to get it right. Continue assisting your child until they are around six to eight years old as even at this age they are still working on learning how to brush properly. It can be especially effective to have them watch you brush and floss so they have a daily example. Better yet, brush together to build healthy habits for the years to come!
One of the most exciting milestones in a child’s life is the day they lose their first tooth! So, when do baby teeth fall out? This commonly occurs between age six and twelve. As teeth fall out you might notice the front ones disappear first, between six and eight years old and the back teeth go later, around nine to thirteen years old. As this continues, eventually 32 adult teeth should make up your child’s lifelong smile! Don’t forget to exercise proper wound care as teeth fall out. Consult a pediatrician or pediatric dentist for safe teeth removal methods and after-care. Looking to maximize the excitement? Introduce them to the tooth fairy!
Your child’s diet can have a massive impact on their oral health. Sweets, the common cavity-causing culprit, should be moderated. Ensure your child enjoys them after meals with brushing right after, rather than throughout the day. Keep healthy snacks for teeth and body on hand such as nuts and veggies to get your child in the habit of eating well and taking care of themselves. When possible, opt for foods low in added sugar and try to avoid sticky, sugary, or extra hard foods that can be rough on the teeth. Encourage your child to stay hydrated with water fortified with fluoride (often found in tap water). Drinking water is a super simple way to improve oral, and overall health!
At Coastal Kids Pediatrics, we are passionate about making sure your little one is healthy from teeth to toes! While it might seem like just simple brushing and flossing, taking care of baby teeth is complex, requiring proper nutrition and habit forming to set your baby up for a healthy smile that can last a lifetime. If you have questions or concerns about how to help a teething baby, brushing baby’s teeth, or anything else about your child’s health, don’t hesitate to reach out to your skilled Coastal Kids Pediatrician for help. To learn more or make an appointment, visit us at www.coastalkids.com. We can’t wait to see your little one’s brand new, toothy smile!