Your baby’s teeth start to form during pregnancy. At birth, the baby’s 20 teeth, called primary teeth, are still forming under the gums. The young child’s diet influences both the formation of his baby teeth and his permanent teeth.
When Do Babies Start Teething ?
babies start teething after the first teeth grow around 6 months of age. However, they may appear earlier or later, even up to 12 months of age. The lower front teeth usually pierce first.
Teething can go unnoticed or be accompanied by discomfort. From 4 months of age, it is normal for your baby to saliva a lot. When the teeth come in, he may salivate more and feel the need to bite.
Your baby may also have red cheeks, have irritation around the mouth or face, be more moody or refuse food. When the molars (the back teeth) are pushed, some babies touch their ears more, because of the pain felt in this area. If these discomforts are significant, contact Info-Santé.
In some children, a blue bubble (also called an eruption cyst) appears on the gums just before the tooth is pierced. In general, this bubble does not require any treatment. If necessary, consult a health professional.
Do not attribute fever, diarrhea or red buttocks too quickly to tooth growth. Look for another cause instead.
Symptoms of teething. Teething has different effects on different babies. One chews things, frets, drools, has a hard time getting to sleep, and generally makes life miserable for the family for a month or two as each tooth comes through.
Another baby acquires teeth with no fuss at all. Teeth or no teeth, most babies start to drool at around three to four months as their salivary glands become more active. Don’t be fooled into thinking that drooling always means that teething has started.
Since babies get twenty teeth in their first three years, it’s easy to understand why they always seem to be cutting teeth, and why it’s so easy to blame every ailment on teething. Before viruses and bacteria were discovered, people thought that teething cause colds, diarrhea, and fevers.
In fact, some babies have facial flushing, drooling, irritability, ear rubbing, and mildly raised temperatures (less than 100.4°F) during teething.
Cough, congestion, vomiting and diarrhea are not teething symptoms. Mainly, teething causes teeth! If your baby is sick, talk with the doctor; don’t simply assume that teething is the cause.
Help for teething. Any teeth may distress a baby, but the first four molar teeth, which erupt around twelve to eighteen months, are more likely to cause trouble than the others.
What to do? First, let her chew! Provide chewable objects that are dull and soft enough so that when she falls with them in her mouth, they won’t do any damage. Rubber teething rings of various shapes are good.
Avoid toys made from thin, brittle plastic, which could break and cause choking, and objects that might be coated with lead paint (that is, anything painted before about 1980, and possibly items imported from overseas). Board books are safe for babies to chew on; they’re lead-free, and they get soggy but don’t break into pieces a baby could choke on.
Cold things usually help.
You can try tying an ice cube or a piece of apple in a square of cloth, or try the cool, damp cloth alone. Some parents swear by frozen bagels or frozen slices of banana. Be creative!
Many babies love to have their gums firmly rubbed. And don’t fret about germs on the teething ring or piece of cloth.
Your baby is putting all sorts of things in her mouth anyway, none of which are germ-free. Of course, it’s a good idea to wash the teething ring after it has fallen on the floor or after the dog has slobbered over it.
Ask your child’s doctor before giving any medication for teething. There are lots of teething gels on the market that may offer some relief, but some contain potentially dangerous medications.
A dose of acetaminophen can help with teething discomfort now and then, but even this safe medicine can be harmful if you give too much or for too many days.
HOW TEETH DEVELOP
Most babies get their first tooth at around six months, but occasionally a baby is
born with a tooth. Other babies are 12 months or older before their first tooth
appears. Your child should have all his primary teeth by the time he is 21⁄2 years old
When teething, your baby will probably chew everything within reach and drool copiously and continually.
He may also be in pain, which will make him irritable, and one cheek may become flushed. However, he shouldn’t be running a fever, have a cough or any other serious symptoms; if he does, consult your doctor.
Baby Teeth Chart
Your child’s primary teeth will probably appear in the following order:
■ lower central incisors (6 months)
■ upper central incisors (61 ⁄2 months)
■ lower lateral incisors (7 months)
■ upper lateral incisors (8 months)
■ lower anterior molars (10 months)
■ upper anterior molars (14 months)
■ lower canines (16 months)
■ upper canines (18 months)
■ lower second molars (2 years)
■ upper second molars (21 ⁄2 years).
Your child will have 20 primary teeth; the numerals indicate the order in which they
should appear. He will start losing them when he’s about six years old
Teething is a common cause of pain in older babies. They can also cry from earaches and other illnesses this is usually a more persistent cry, and your baby may be miserable
Benzocaine teething gels are in many parents’ medicine cabinets, but I find they are a mixed blessing. Although they can reduce pain, they do it by numbing the mouth and causing that “just left the dentist’s” feeling.
Some babies find this swollen, numb sensation as annoying as the teething pain itself. Also, the effect of teething gels is quite short lived, and the gels carry a small risk of allergic reactions and decreased gag reflex.
Remedy. Babies’ painful gums are often soothed by a massage, so as the first line of treatment, simply rub the gums firmly but gently with a clean finger. You may find that your baby resists at first, but don’t give up right away.
Many babies settle down and become relaxed as the massage continues. You can also offer your baby cold teethers to chew on.
However, keep in mind that the toxic plastics found in many baby toys (which contribute directly to both body and world pollution) are also found in some teething rings.
So if you choose plastic, it is important to purchase teething rings made of nontoxic plastics.
I prefer organic cotton teethers. Or your baby might find relief just by chewing on a washcloth that has been moistened and cooled in the freezer.
This is a good idea if the washcloth is made from organic fibers. See the Buying Green box “Baby Supplies for the Medicine Cabinet” for safe teething products for your baby.
WHAT MAKES GOOD TEETH?
Nutrition for strong teeth. When Do Babies Start Teething teeth need proper nutrition, including calcium and phosphorus, vitamin D, and vitamin C. Tooth development actually begins before birth, so pregnant women need to make sure they are getting all of these nutrients.
Good sources for calcium and phosphorus include vegetables, cereals, calcium-supplemented juices, and milk. Sources for vitamin D include fortified milk, vitamin drops, and sunshine. Good sources of vitamin C include most fruits (especially citrus), vitamin drops, raw tomatoes, cabbage, and breast milk.
Timing is also important. Frequent snacking throughout the day encourages cavities. The mouth needs time to clean itself between meals. Young children need three meals and three snacks; older children should snack once or not at all. Sugary foods that stick to the teeth feed the bacteria that cause cavities.
Fluoride. It only take a little fluoride in a mother’s diet during pregnancy and in the growing child’s diet to make teeth decay-resistant. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral; we all have it in our teeth and bones. Fluoride makes the tooth enamel resistant to the action of acid.
If your water is low on fluoride, if your family mostly drinks bottled water, or if you use a home purification system that takes out all the fluoride and other minerals, then it makes sense for you and your children to use a fluoride supplement (drops or pills). It also helps to put fluoride directly onto the teeth in the form of toothpastes, mouth rinses, or special preparations that dentists use.
Fluoride for babies and children.
If you’re breastfeeding and you are drinking fluoridated water, you don’t need to give your baby extra fluoride. If your water is not fluoridated, consider giving your baby an infant vitamin with fluoride.
Baby formulas do not contain much fluoride, but if you are mixing the formula with fluoridated water, your child is getting plenty of fluoride. If not, consider adding fluoride drops.
If you’re giving fluoride drops, it’s important to use the right amount. Too much fluoride can cause unattractive white and brown specks on the teeth. Your child’s doctor or dentist can tell you how much to give.
Fluoridated toothpastes strengthen tooth enamel, but too much fluoride can cause chalky or brown discoloration of the teeth. Children who eat toothpaste (that is, most young children) may get too much fluoride, so use a non-fluoride-containing toothpaste until your child is old enough to spit and rinse.
Once you change to fluoride toothpaste, put a pea-size amount on the brush. It’s best to keep toothpaste away from a young child who might decide that it’s really delicious.
Bacteria and plaque. How does tooth decay happen? Bacteria living in the mouth combine with food debris to form a material called dental plaque that sticks to the teeth. The bacteria make acid.
The acid dissolves the minerals that make up the teeth, eventually destroying them. The more hours of the day that plaque remains on the teeth, the greater the number of bacteria and the more acid they make.
The bacteria thrive on sugar and starch. Anything that keeps sugars sitting in the mouth is good for the bacteria and bad for the teeth. That’s why frequent between-meal snacking promotes tooth decay.
Especially harmful are lollipops, sticky candy and dried fruit, sugary drinks (soda and juice), and sweets like cookies and crackers, which cling to the teeth.
Saliva contains substances that help teeth resist attack by bacteria. Since the body makes less saliva during sleep, nighttime is when cavities are most likely to form. When children go to bed with food and plaque stuck to their teeth, the bacteria have all night long to do their dirty work.
That is why it is so important to clean may get too much fluoride, so use a non-fluoride-containing toothpaste until your child is old enough to spit and rinse. Once you change to fluoride toothpaste, put a pea-size amount on the brush. It’s best to keep toothpaste away from a young child who might decide that it’s really delicious.
EARLY DENTIST VISITS
It’s a good idea to take your child to the dentist as soon as the first tooth erupts. Early preventive visits allow the dentist to detect problems when they can be solved more easily and painlessly.
A child who has positive early experiences in the dentist’s office comes to look forward to dentist appointments, not dread them. Most future visits will be preventive in nature, rather than the traditional “drill and fill” sessions that haunt the childhood memories of so many adults.
Early care is especially important if you yourself have had bad dental experiences. Tooth decay and gum disease are often passed from parent to child. Early care can help your child take a different path.
If your child does have dental problems, then it is especially important that you develop a relationship with a dentist you can trust. More and more dentists see it as their job to create a “dental home” for each child, just as pediatricians try to create a “medical home.” Certainly, if dental troubles run in your family, then a dental home is what your child should have.
MY BABY IS TEETHING. WILL HE BITE ME WHEN I FEED HIM ?
He may. His gums can be sore at around six months of age, just before a tooth erupts, butn teething can happen earlier. He’ll probably be gnawing everything within reach at this stage, and your nipple is no exception. Just react naturally: yelp with pain, take your baby off the breast for a few minutes, and say “No” to him. He’ll soon stop biting. Offer a teething ring between feedings.
Caring for primary teeth
How can I help my child have healthy teeth?
Start brushing your baby’s teeth in the morning and evening as soon as they appear. Initially you can hold him on your lap and brush from behind.
When he’s old enough to sit or stand unaided, brush from the front. Even when he can brush by himself, you should supervise his technique. Only give fruit juice at mealtimes and avoid bedtime drinks unless he brushes afterward. If your child has sweet food, get him to eat it all at once rather than lingering over it.
Encourage him to choose healthy snacks and make sure his diet is rich in calcium, minerals, and vitamins. Begin dental checkups at an early age.
Are carbonated diet drinks better for teeth?
No. Carbonated diet drinks don’t contain sugar, so you might think they’re tooth-friendly, but their acidity makes them harmful when dissolved, carbon dioxide makes carbonic acid. Put a coin into a diet drink and watch it being eaten away.
Does my child need fluoride drops ?
It depends on where you live. Sometimes fluoride is
already in the water, either occurring naturally or because it has been added by the water provider.
If your area doesn’t have fluoride in the water, your child may need drops from babyhood onward. Too much fluoride may discolor the teeth permanently, so don’t give fluoride drops without first seeking advice from your doctor or pediatrician.
Can medicines affect my child’s teeth?
All medicines containing sugar can have an adverse effect on a child’s teeth. Many are now available in sugar-free formulations that still taste good to children. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for sugar free alternatives whenever possible.
Some antibiotics can also be detrimental to dental enamel, especially tetracycline. This is why they shouldn’t be given to children under 12 years old or to women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
When Do Babies Start Teething Around four months, teeth can start to emerge, and by age three all twenty primary teeth will be in place. To prevent cavities you will want to start keeping teeth clean as soon as they appear.
A teething baby will love to put everything in her mouth. Ask your doctor about the use of products such as Orajel or Anbesol. These can give temporary relief but might also interfere with chewing ability because they cause numbness.
This could be a significant problem because almost any food used as a teething ring, such as a bagel, can very quickly turn into a mushy, gooey substance that can be difficult to swallow.
Many parents turn to the Baby Safe Feeder. This is a baby-safe bag that holds the food and allows juices to be squeezed out but are too large to be a choking risk. These did not exist when I had my children, but they seem to make a lot of sense.
I used a clean new sock filled with crushed ice and tied at the end instead as a teething ring. Cold chewy food can give relief, but when my girls were little I let them chomp on a clean damp washcloth or a clean adult-size toothbrush.
Of course, never leave your little one alone while she has a teething food or object in her mouth.
The eruption of teeth is no reason to stop nursing. If your baby bites down while nursing, teach her not to do this by using your pinky finger to break her mouth’s suction on your breast. Quite quickly a child learns to stop this habit.
To prevent the rash that often develops with the constant drooling that accompanies teething, pat your baby’s chin dry as often as possible, and put a thin layer of baby oil on the chin to prevent irritation.