Most infants begin to teethe around 2 months of age. The drooling begins, and their shirts are constantly soaked. When you notice your baby drooling, start to place a bib around your child’s neck to prevent skin irritation due to wetness.
When your infant is ready to grasp a rattle, typically around 4 months of age, she'll also be able to hold a teething ring. Have a couple ready in the fridge for when your infant fusses due to irritated gums. Never freeze the teething rings because they will be too cold for your baby’s gums and may cause frostbite!
Statistically speaking, the first tooth comes out between 6 and 9 months of age. However, if you or the infant’s siblings had their teeth erupt at an earlier age, your baby might as well. Regardless of when the first tooth comes out, once it erupts, it needs to be cleaned. You can either wipe it with a wet washcloth, or use a soft wet toothbrush with or without baby toothpaste. Adult toothpaste with fluoride can be introduced to your child when he/she learns to spit it out. Avoid letting your child use your toothpaste earlier, because swallowing it will lead to permanent white spots on the teeth.
Teach your child to floss as early as he/she is able to understand directions and possesses adequate fine motor skills to begin flossing. Studies show that by brushing teeth alone, we remove about 40% of food that sticks to
them. Without daily flossing, we’ll succumb to cavities and dragon breath fairly quickly.
Every child should see a dentist twice a year. Your child’s first visit should take place when he/she is ready to sit quietly for 10 minutes. Most dentists want to see children for the first visit at 3 years old. However, if you notice problems with your child’s teeth earlier, do not wait!
How to Prevent Childhood Tooth Decay
Hold your baby during bottle feedings instead of letting the infant hold his/her own bottle.
Don’t let your infant fall asleep when drinking a bottle.
Never dip pacifiers in sugar or other sweet substances to encourage sucking.
Introduce sippy cups at age 6 months.
Wean off the bottle right after the first birthday.
Start to brush your child’s teeth as soon as they come out.
In older children, limit sugary snacks, decrease juice intake, and encourage brushing and flossing.
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Dr. Hillary is a pediatric nurse practitioner with a doctoral degree in health promotion and risk reduction. She has worked with children for well over a decade, and answers online pediatric questions at Plugged in Parents: Ask Doctor Hillary.
Be sure to go to a conveniently located Western Dental or a family dentist.
Helping The Teething Toddler - Dr. Sears
Author : Diba Tillery RN, BSN, IBCLC, CPST