New parents have a lot of firsts they encounter – the first time sleeping through the night, the first word, the first step, and, of course, the first tooth. There are books and videos and seasoned parents who can all try to prepare you for what you will encounter. Unfortunately, most of the first things you will experience with your baby will still come as a surprise when they happen.
So, if you have just noticed that your baby has a tiny white tooth starting to poke through the gums, there are a few things you should know.
1. The First Tooth Will Usually Erupt Between 6 Months and 12 Months of Age
Your baby may begin to explore his or her mouth as early as 3 months – and during this time many parents think this is a sign of teething. However, the first tooth usually won’t appear until at least 6 months of age. Notice that we say usually. That’s because this varies greatly from baby to baby. Some may start getting teeth in quickly at 4-6 months while others may not have any teeth at all when they turn a year old.
Most children will have all of their primary teeth by the time they reach 3 years of age.
2. Begin Adding Fluoride at 6 Months of Age
Fluoride is a mineral that plays a role in deterring tooth decay by hardening the tooth’s enamel. To make it easy, fluoride is added to most tap water – and giving a little bit to drink starting around 6 months of age can be beneficial. Though it is important to talk to your pediatrician to confirm whether this is enough fluoride in your community water or if supplements should be considered.
It is important to note that most bottled water does not contain fluoride.
3. Find Ways to Relieve Teething Pain – That Work
When you have a fussy baby who is teething, this is often due to some discomfort in these areas of the mouth. Gums may be swollen and drooling may seem to happen constantly. So, what is a parent to do to offer relief?
- Massage the gums (with clean fingers)
- Offer a solid frozen teething ring to chew on
- Wet and freeze a clean washcloth for chewing
It is not uncommon for temperatures to rise slightly during times of teething, but not necessarily to the level of a fever. Monitor their temperature and if you notice your baby is still really uncomfortable, talk to your pediatrician about over-the-counter, age/weight-appropriate pain relievers.
4. Avoid Teething Tablets, Benzocaine Gels, And Others
There are a few things you will want to avoid – especially those that have warnings against them issued by the FDA. This includes Belladonna and Benzocaine which are designed to numb your child’s pain and offer relief, though not without some potential side effects. Belladonna is found in some teething tablets and benzocaine is often found in gels.
Amber teething necklaces are placed around the child’s neck making it easily accessible for chewing while teething. Yet, it creates a strangulation and choking risk, too. It is recommended to avoid these products.
5. Begin Brushing Teeth Twice Daily
It is never too early to start a healthy oral hygiene routine with your baby – especially once that first tooth comes in. Starting early, a rice-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste should be used. And by the time more teeth are in (around age 3), you can increase it to a pea-sized amount. Remember, younger kids won’t understand spitting out the excess toothpaste. Minimizing the amount of toothpaste on the brush and using a soft cloth to absorb any excess paste can limit the amount they could swallow. As soon as your child is able, it is important to develop proper teeth brushing and spitting techniques.
6. Make the First Dental Appointment When the First Tooth Appears
It is recommended that your baby see the dentist for the first time within 6 months of when their first tooth appears – or at 12 months of age. The pediatric dentist will assess to ensure that growth and development are normal and that there are no dental concerns that need to be addressed.
This is a great time to discuss oral hygiene techniques and ask any questions you may have. It’s also the perfect opportunity for your little one to start exploring what the dentist is all about and get comfortable with the surroundings.
7. Discuss Fluoride Treatments With Your Child’s Pediatric Dentist
A fluoride treatment is a great preventative dental measure that will help to strengthen teeth and reduce the incidence of decay. They are simple procedures that involve applying the natural fluoride substance in the form of a gel, foam, or vanish.
Don’t forget to discuss fluoride treatment with your child’s pediatric dentist.
If you are looking for a pediatric dentist you can feel confident in, the dental team at Marigold Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics is here for you.