The appearance of your baby's first tooth is an exciting landmark! Nature has its own schedule for every child's mouth. Although at birth, babies already have 20 primary teeth, they appear at different rates. Some teeth arrive early and others a bit later.
Having some general guidelines and recommended care at each stage of development is helpful for caregivers.
Teething begins and your baby's gums may be sore because the teeth are getting ready to break through the gums. Signs to watch for include redness, fussiness, sleeplessness, drooling, and perhaps some loss of appetite.
The four front teeth (incisors) usually appear, followed by other front teeth. As soon as the first tooth erupts, it may be cleaned with a clean, wet washcloth or wet gauze. The gums should also be gently wiped. If a toothbrush is used, it should be an appropriate size and soft-bristled. Use only water with the toothbrush at this time. Schedule your child's first dental exam by his or her first birthday (and definitely no later than 16 months of age).
Baby is getting a mouthful! Incisor baby teeth and canines are common; first molars also can make their entrance. Wean your baby from the bottle to prevent "baby bottle tooth decay."
Canines, first molars, and second molars are expected. Schedule your child's dental exams every six months. Help your child form good oral hygiene habits; teach them how to brush.
All the primary or baby teeth should be in place. Some of the permanent teeth are getting ready to take their place. Your child likely needs help with some areas of brushing, like the inner surfaces and way in the back. Make sure to check your child's teeth after brushing is complete. By age five, your child is ready to floss with your help.
The "toothless grin" stage begins as primary teeth are lost over several years. Permanent teeth emerge, usually beginning with the upper and lower molars. You may want to consult with an orthodontist about any potential needed correction.
The wisdom teeth need to be evaluated for proper placement and whether the size of the jaw can accommodate them.
Scheduling dental exams every six months is an important part of every stage of the developing mouth and plays an active role in good oral hygiene practices.
By Brian J. Gray, DDS, MAGD, FICO