Baby’s First Tooth
There are many milestones to look forward to with a new baby. For first-time parents, some of the timelines of these special moments can be unclear. Furthermore, no two babies are exactly the same, nor are their developmental milestones. Determining when a baby will have its first tooth is not an exact science; some babies will have teeth that begin to erupt at only a few months of age, and some won’t have any by the time they celebrate their first year. While this article can’t tell you precisely when your baby will get their first tooth, it can and will tell you how to care for them during this time.
Pattern of Tooth Development
While there can be quite a bit of variability surrounding tooth eruption in infants, most babies begin to develop teeth around 6 months of age and acquire all of their teeth in the subsequent two and a half years.
The first teeth to develop are the teeth in the bottom front teeth, followed shortly by the upper middle front teeth. These are the central incisors. The pattern of development generally moves out and back over time, with all teeth including the molars being acquired by the age of three. Perhaps not surprisingly, the pattern of tooth loss will track that of development; the first teeth to erupt are the first to be shed, and so forth.
Caring for your Infant during the Teething Stage
Teething can be an uncomfortable time for infants, as erupting teeth push through the gums can cause some pain and even an elevated temperature. To ease the discomfort they may feel at this time, you might consider gently massaging the gums with clean, wet fingers; providing your child with a teething biscuit to chew on; or even allowing them to chew on a cold wet washcloth. While many children are not bothered by the teething process, those that experience discomfort can benefit from these interventions.
It is best to avoid teething necklaces, which can be a strangulation risk, as well as any medications containing belladonna and benzocaine, as these can have toxic effects.
If your child develops a temperature during teething, be sure to talk to your pediatrician first before administering any children’s Tylenol or Advil. She or he may wish to see your child in clinic to ensure that the fever is indeed related to teething and not an underlying health issue.
General Dental Care for Infants and Small Children
As your child begins to develop their first teeth, it is important to take steps towards protecting their oral health. The first thing to do is to ensure that your child is getting some exposure to fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral that helps protect the hard enamel coating of one’s teeth. As this is usually present in the water supply, it can help to simply provide your child with a sippy cup containing a few ounces of fluorinated water each day.
An appointment should be made with a dentist to see your child once their first tooth has erupted. They can give you some advice on brushing, which should be done daily as soon as teeth begin to develop, as well as any possible fluoride varnishes they might recommend to protect your child’s developing teeth.