Just like a baby’s first word or first step, a baby’s first tooth is a milestone! Time for those cute photos of baby smiling with one or two teeth to show off.
When should you expect a baby’s first tooth? The average age is around 6 months but of course, some babies may not have their first tooth till around their first birthday and that is ok! From around 6 months until age 3, your baby will continue to get new teeth. Most toddlers have all of their primary dentition by their third birthday.
Every baby is different and teething may affect some babies more than others. The good news is that it is short-lived and there are some things you can do to relieve some discomfort:
- Teething toys: Silicone teething toys are great! There are many on the market and keeping them chilled can make them even better for sore gums. Avoid freezing any teething toys for more than 15 minutes as toys that are too cold can hurt their gums! Also avoid frozen teething rings as this can be too hard.
- Washcloth: In place of purchasing teething toys, you can use a burp cloth or washcloth. Tie a knot, dampen the cloth, and chill it in the fridge or in the freezer for less than 15 minutes.
- Gum massage: With the use of a silicone finger brush or a washcloth, a nice gentle gum massage can do the trick.
- Medication: For those times when every other trick doesn’t seem to provide any relief, you can always talk to your pediatrician or pediatric dentist about giving your baby a dose of acetaminophen (Tylenol).
Before your baby even has teeth to show off, it is very important to start good habits early! You can use a finger brush or washcloth to gently wipe the mouth, especially after feedings. This promotes good oral health and a healthy microbiome.
As soon as the first tooth erupts, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends brushing with a rice-grain smear of fluoridated toothpaste. Once your child is able to spit (usually around age three), you can start to use a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. There are many brands of toothpaste to choose from and many offer both fluoridated and non-fluoridated options. Non-fluoridated options are great to let your baby have fun with, but remember the brushing only counts if you are doing it for them!
Once solids are introduced, it is very important to start establishing a brushing routine to prevent tooth decay! The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a “Brush, Book, Bed” nightly routine. Ideally, you will want to provide your baby’s last feeding, brush after the feeding, read a book, and then put them to bed. Easier said than done, right? For those babies who need that night feeding to fall asleep, I hear you! It can certainly be a tough transition to brush after a night feeding instead of before, but at the very least, brush at some point during the bedtime routine.
What about middle of the night feeds? If your baby needs a feed in the middle of the night, try to keep tooth and gum wipes (Jack N’ Jill or Spiffies) handy on a bedside table to quickly wipe the teeth and mouth before your baby goes back to bed.
Starting good habits early can ensure a happy and healthy smile for your baby! Don’t forget to bring your baby to a pediatric dentist by their first birthday!
Schedule your baby’s first dental appointment today at Surfside Smile Co. Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics to learn more tooth tips and tricks.
Dr. Kristianne is a board-certified pediatric dentist practicing in Middletown, New Jersey and serving Monmouth County and beyond.