The appearance of that first baby tooth is an exciting time as it opens up a baby’s world to the future of a myriad of food choices. This developmental milestone requires parents to be aware of how to adequately care for this new tooth to ensure a healthy dental future for baby.
According to Babycenter.com, most children develop their first tooth between 4 and 7 months old. As experienced parents know, teething is marked by irritability, drooling and possible sleep problems. It may take a few days, but eventually that first little tooth will pop through the gum.
Once this single pearly white appears, it is important that parents take good care of this and the subsequent additions to your child’s smile. The American Dental Association explains that up until the age of 2, brushing with water is an acceptable way to maintain dental health. This can be accomplished using a gentle child toothbrush or a piece of clean gauze to wipe the tooth or teeth as least twice a day to prevent decay. Due to the fluoride in commercial toothpastes, toothpaste is not recommended for children under two. Parents with concerns should consult their pediatrician or dentist.
It is recommended that parents take their children for their first dentist appointment by age 1 or within six months of the first tooth coming in. At that time, your dentist can evaluate the hygiene routine you have maintained for your child, review with you any suggestions for continued maintenance and check for tooth decay and other potential problems. This appointment is a good opportunity to discuss concerns about thumb-sucking as well.
At the time of the appearance of the first tooth, your child is likely to still be utilizing a bottle for feeding and/or drinking. The continued use of bottle filled with sugary milk or juices can lead to a type of tooth decay found in infants called bottle rot. To prevent bottle rot, put water in your baby’s bottle before bed or eliminate a bottle at bedtime, if your child will tolerate that. As your child gets older, be mindful that your child doesn’t suck on a sippy cup full of a sugary beverage, as this too can cause tooth decay.
The appearance of baby’s first tooth is one of the first of many great milestones and is a time to be celebrated. Baby is growing and changing, and so are his or her needs. Although these first teeth are merely placeholders for the permanent teeth to come later, setting up a good oral hygiene routine for your child from the first appearance of the first tooth is important. Make it a priority to learn how to care for these first teeth, consult with a dentist early on and, most of all, enjoy this time with your growing child!
“Developmental Milestones: Teething,” Babycenter.com.
“Baby’s First Teeth,” American Dental Association.
“Baby’s First Tooth,” The Kid’s Doctor.