The eruption of your baby’s first teeth is an important milestone that affects their physical and social development. Primary or deciduous teeth, commonly called baby teeth, impact your baby’s facial development along with the way they speak, bite, and chew.
While your baby’s first teeth are temporary, caring for primary teeth is key to establishing the foundation for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. Pediatric dentist Staci Brunell, DMD, at Yorktown Pediatric Dentistry in Yorktown Heights, New York, specializes in caring for your baby during the earliest stages of their oral health. Our practice offers complimentary well-baby visits to monitor the oral health of children aged two and under as their primary teeth erupt.
Establishing a relationship with a pediatric dentist as early as possible can help your baby become accustomed to oral exams so they’re comfortable having professional oral care. These visits also give you a chance to ask questions and address concerns about the development of your baby’s first teeth and their overall oral health.
How baby teeth develop
The average age for the eruption of a baby’s first tooth is about 6 months, with the addition of three to four new teeth every three to four months. Baby teeth usually appear in a typical eruption pattern. The two bottom front teeth often appear first, with the rest typically erupting in pairs, with one on each side of the lower and upper jaw.
While most children have all 20 baby teeth before age 3, it’s normal for this timing to vary. Like other developmental milestones, your baby will get their first teeth on their own timeline. First teeth may appear as early as 3 months or as late as 15 months of age.
Treating teething discomfort
Teething describes the process of your baby’s teeth erupting through their gumline. This stage can begin as early as 3 months, long before the first baby tooth appears.
While teething is painless for some babies, others experience extreme discomfort. Tender and swollen gums can make your baby irritable and cranky. Disrupted sleep, lack of appetite, and crying spells commonly occur if your baby is struggling with teething.
You can make your baby more comfortable with the following strategies:
- Massage your baby’s gums with clean fingers
- Allow your child to suck on a clean frozen or wet washcloth
- Offer solid, not liquid-filled teething rings
- Give your baby a teething biscuit to chew on under supervision to prevent choking
- Administer acetaminophen according to Dr. Brunell’s instructions
Protecting your child’s first teeth
Proper care and cleaning of your baby’s first teeth supports long-term dental health. Protecting the health of your baby’s first teeth helps them stay healthy as long as possible until their permanent teeth appear. As placeholders for permanent teeth, baby teeth help prevent gaps that can allow crowding and shifting of new permanent teeth and the need for correction.
Tooth decay can develop as soon as your baby’s first tooth appears, so you should begin brushing your baby’s primary teeth as soon as they erupt. Use a very small dot of fluoride toothpaste, comparable to a grain of rice, on a soft bristle baby toothbrush twice daily. You should introduce daily flossing when your baby has two teeth that touch.
To prevent tooth decay, don’t allow your baby to fall asleep with a bottle of milk or juice. When this occurs, the liquid can pool in their mouth and cause tooth decay and plaque. Limiting your child’s sugar intake can also reduce their risk of tooth decay.
First dental visit
According to recommendations from the American Dental Association (ADA), you should schedule your baby’s first dental visit within six months after their first tooth erupts, but before their first birthday. However, if your baby experiences an injury that chips, cracks, or knocks out a tooth before their first dental visit, contact our office for an emergency dental visit.
In addition to a thorough professional cleaning, your baby’s first dental visit includes an examination of their entire oral development, a discussion about proper nutrition for healthy teeth, and instruction for you on proper brushing and flossing. If issues such as abnormal tooth position or improper tooth development are recognized, an appropriate treatment plan is designed to address the problem before it worsens.
Find out more about caring for your baby’s first teeth and how you can support their lifelong oral health. Contact our office to arrange a consultation.