When do the teeth break through the gums (erupt)?
Normal eruption of the first tooth is generally around 6-7 months of age +/- 6 months. This means that it is normal for a baby to be born with teeth (6 months old minus 6 months = birth) or to have no teeth until they are 1 yr old (6 months old plus 6 months = 1 yr old). You can see that “normal” encompasses a pretty wide range. If your baby’s first tooth is later than the average, you can expect them to also lose teeth later than most of their peers. This is still considered normal.
Teething: What can be done, and when will it end?!?
Teething causes intermittent discomfort, irritability and excessive salivation as new teeth are erupting in your baby’s mouth. It can be managed with over-the-counter analgesics, such as Tylenol Infants’ Drops, or allowing the baby to chew on a soft, chilled teething ring. Use of teething gels containing topical anesthetics such as benzocaine is NOT recommended due to potential toxicity of these products in infants. Teething happens intermittently as teeth are erupting, so you may notice that it is off-and-on until the patient is around 2 years of age or until all the teeth have erupted.
When should I start cleaning my baby’s teeth?
As soon as a tooth appears! The American Association of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that you use a smear of fluoridated toothpaste on a soft, infant-sized toothbrush twice a day.
Wait a minute! I thought I wasn’t supposed to use fluoride until the child is old enough to not swallow it?
Yes, that used to be the case. However, the recommendations were changed due to research showing that the benefits of fluoride, preventing devastating dental disease, far outweigh the risks. Fluoride has been deemed safe and effective by both the American Dental Association and the American Association of Pediatric Dentists. It should always be stored out of the reach of young children and should be used under adult supervision for children under age 5.
What kind of toothbrush should I use?
There are many products available to clean your baby’s teeth. You may have to try out a few different types to see which you like the best. As the teeth first erupt, a soft washcloth is adequate to remove the soft buildup that accumulates on the teeth and gums. There is a type of “toothbrush” for infants that includes a sleeve that fits over the parent’s finger with small rubbery bristles to clean the teeth. An infant toothbrush is simply much smaller in size with very soft bristles. Do not ever use a medium or hard toothbrush on your baby!