Baby Teeth: When They Come In And How To Keep Them Clean
8 min read
It’s no secret that the arrival your little one’s baby teeth is a milestone for the baby book. Just like their first word and their first step, it’s a reminder that your bundle of joy is growing into a healthy, happy little tot.
Not only that, but it’s also the first glimpse of what will eventually be their own set of pearly whites.
Like many of these precious moments, there are steps you can take as a parent to help ensure your baby has the best start in life. Caring for their teeth is part of this and can help set your little one up for a lifetime of healthy dental care habits
Usually, babies are born with 20 teeth, known as their primary teeth. When your bub is born, these teeth are nestled into their gums and usually start to cut through at around the six-month mark.
Your child’s first full set of teeth will usually appear by the time they are 2-3 years old.
You may know of this phase by its technical name: teething. Once all the primary or “milk” teeth have come through, they will gradually fall out as your child gets older to make way for their adult chompers. This usually begins when children are school age, between six and 12 years old.
A common misconception is that baby teeth aren’t as important as their successors. Although this initial set of pearly whites will eventually be replaced, it’s important that you take good care of your bub’s gum and tooth health from the get-go.
Are you curious about which teeth will come in and when? (1)
Surprisingly, you can (and should) start your baby’s dental care routine well before their first tooth has even begun to cut through their gums.
Once your bub is three months old, you can begin gently wiping their gums using a damp face cloth or gauze twice daily. This helps prepare your bub for brushing when that special first tooth arrives.
When the first tooth appears, you can clean their teeth with a short toothbrush designed for children under two years. If they don’t like the sensation of a toothbrush in their mouth, you can keep using a damp face cloth to wipe the front and back of the tooth.
Unless you have spoken to a dentist, it’s recommended that you use only water on the toothbrush until your baby is 18 months old. Of course, if you have any concerns about your child’s oral care, speak with your health professional (1).
To have their whites at their pearliest from a young age, the following steps may help you when brushing your baby’s teeth:
For the first 18 months, only use water on the toothbrush when brushing your baby’s teeth. From 18 months up until five years, using a small pea-sized amount of child-strength fluoride toothpaste is recommended. This is because both contain differing amounts of fluoride, with child-strength fluoride more appropriate for your little one’s teeth.
Once your child reaches school-age (about six years old), dentists recommend that regular strength toothpaste can be used. The fluoride in these products may help to prevent tooth decay and support strong, healthy teeth.
Of course, if you have any concerns about your child’s oral care, talk to your heath professional (2, 3).
Sometimes, introducing a new sensation to your baby can feel like a game of chance. Either they’ll accommodate the process with or be less than enthusiastic (cue tantrum).
If your baby doesn’t enjoy the tooth brushing experience, you can try making it more fun for them by singing a song while brushing, pulling happy faces or letting them play with a toy while you brush.
A quick brush may be better than no brush at all as this can help your baby to learn that brushing is part of the daily routine and establish it as a lifelong habit (4).
Hopefully, when your child’s baby teeth start to come in, these simple tips and tricks can help both of you feel ready to take on the exciting changes to come. And, most importantly, it may give you a heads up on when the tooth fairy should be expected to visit!
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