Baby Teeth Basics

My wife and I had our first child almost three months ago, so many of our conversations now revolve around how to best care for our daughter, including caring for her dental health. Here are some quick tips for parents and grandparents caring for the precious young people in their lives.

When do kids get their first teeth?

On average, a child will have their first tooth erupt around six months of age, but this can happen as early as three months to as late as one year. As you can see, there can be a wide range of normal with teething.

What can be done about teething pain?

As your child’s teeth erupt, it will cause discomfort, irritability, and excessive salivation. The discomfort can be soothed by massaging the gums with a cold spoon or a chilled teething ring. Stay away from products like Orajel or Anbesol, which contain benzocaine. Benzocaine can be toxic in children. Once the first tooth erupts, more teeth will continue to erupt every few months until your child is two to three years old and has all 20 baby teeth. Against common belief, a fever is not a symptom of teething. If your child has a fever, this is a sign that of something systemic like the flu or an ear infection.

When should I start brushing my child’s teeth?

As soon as they erupt! Brush on a smear amount, the size of a grain of rice, of fluoridated toothpaste twice a day. Fluoride-free or training toothpastes are available, but they should not be used since they do not contain tooth-strengthening, cavity-preventing fluoride. When your child turns three, bump up the amount of toothpaste to a pea-sized amount. Stay away from mouthwash until your child is six or seven years old, and he or she has mastered spitting.

When should my child’s first dental visit be?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends your first child to visit the dentist before his/her first birthday. This allows the dentist to provide the parents with important information and education about ideal oral care. The initial visits also help familiarize your child with the dental office and the dental team.

Mark Scallon, DDS