Caring For Baby’s First Teeth
Your baby’s teeth will start to come in at about the age of six months. By age three, most children have a full set of 20 primary teeth. Baby teeth will later be lost as your child develops and grows. This makes space for their permanent adult teeth, which begin to come in around age 6. By the age of 21, a person usually has all of their adult teeth.
Your child’s baby teeth help your child chew and speak normally. They also create and hold space in the jaws for the adult teeth that come in later.
As the baby teeth start to come in, some babies may have sore or tender gums. Rubbing your child’s gums with a clean wet cloth or finger may help with the pain. A clean, chilled teething ring may also ease their tender gums. Please do not dip it in sugar, syrup, honey, or other foods. This can quickly lead to decay and it is not good for baby.
Gels or creams with benzocaine should NOT be used to soothe sore gums in babies younger than 2. Benzocaine is a local anesthetic that has caused serious reactions in a small number of children. It can be found in over-the-counter porducts such as Anbesol, Hurricaine, Orajel, Baby Orajel, and Oralbase. These products are simply not appropriate for your child’s sensitive system. Details are available on the Food and Drug Adminstraion website at with other methods of soothing your childs’ gums during this painful time in their young life. If your child is still uncomfortable and cranky while teething, consult your pediatrician immediately.
Sippy Cups or “no-spill” cups should only be used until around a child’s first birthday. After that, try to get your child to drink from a small open cup.
Cleaning Your Baby’s Teeth
After each feeding, wipe your baby’s gums with a clean, damp gauze pad or a washcloth. This will remove plaque and bits of food that can harm their new teeth. When your child’s teeth start to come in, brush them very gently with a child-sized toothbrush and water. Position your child so you can see into the mouth easily. You may want to sit, resting his or her head in your lap.
Avoid fluoride toothpaste. If your child is under three years old and you start using fluoride toothpaste, use no more than a smear or grain-of-rice sized amount. For children three to six years old, use no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Be surethat your child spits out all of the toothpaste and does not swallow it! Fluoride is actually toxic and has been shown to lower IQs! For more on this topic visit this link:
Brush your child’s teeth until he or she is at least six years old. Begin using floss when your child has two teeth that touch.
First Dental Visit
As soon as your child’s first tooth appears, schedule their first dental visit. Children should visit the dentist before their first birthday. Treat the first visit as you would a well-baby checkup with the child’s pediatrician. It is best to meet the dentist when your child is having no dental problems - don’t wait until an emergency comes up.
Having a well-baby check up at this age connects your child to a dental home. This is a “home base” for dental care, a place where you can take your child from year to year. This helps the dentist get to know your child’s and your family’s specific needs, so he or she can provide the best care.