Early Dental Care

Teething FAQ

When do babies get their first teeth?
Normally the first tooth erupts between ages 6 to 12 months.

When do babies stop teething?
Teething occurs until age 3.

How can I tell if my baby is teething?
Teething symptoms include gum soreness and tenderness and irritability. Babies will express their discomfort from teething with signs such as drooling, coughing, biting whatever they can find, and being fussy when it comes to feedings.

How do I soothe a teething baby?
Rubbing sore gums gently with a clean finger, the back of a cold spoon or a cold, wet cloth helps soothe the gums. Teething rings work well, but avoid teething biscuits – they contain sugar that is not good for baby teeth.


Baby Tooth Decay

While your baby is teething, it is important to monitor the signs of teething for baby teeth decay. Examine the teeth, especially on the inside or the tongue side, every two weeks for dull spots (whiter than the tooth surface) or lines. A bottle containing anything other than water left in an infant’s mouth while sleeping can cause baby tooth decay. This happens because sugar in the liquid mixes with bacteria in dental plaque, forming acids that attack the tooth enamel. Each time a child drinks liquids containing sugar, acids attack the teeth for about 20 minutes. When awake, saliva carries away the liquid. During sleep, the saliva flow significantly decreases, and liquids pool around the child’s teeth for long periods, covering the teeth in acids.


Baby Teeth

The primary, or “baby”, teeth play a crucial role in dental development. Without baby teeth, a child cannot chew food properly and has difficulty speaking clearly. Baby teeth are vital to development of the jaws and for guiding the permanent (secondary) teeth into place when they replace the primary teeth around age 6.

Since baby teeth guide the permanent teeth into place, infants with missing baby teeth or infants who prematurely lose baby teeth may require a space maintainer, a device used to hold the natural space open. Without a maintainer, the baby teeth can tilt toward the empty space and cause permanent teeth to come in crooked. Missing teeth should always be mentioned to your family dentist. The way your child cares for his/her baby teeth plays a critical role in how he/she treats the permanent teeth. Children and adults are equally susceptible to plaque and gum problems – hence, the need for regular care and dental check-ups with a pediatric dentist or general dentist.


A Child’s First Dental Visit

A child’s first pediatric dental visit should be scheduled around his/her 1st birthday. The most important part of the visit is getting to know and becoming comfortable with the pediatric dentist and his staff. A pleasant, comfortable first visit builds trust and helps put the child at ease during future pediatric dental care visits. If possible, allow the child to sit in a parent’s lap in the exam room. Children should be encouraged to discuss any fears or anxiety they feel.


Why Primary Teeth Are Important

Primary teeth are important for several reasons. Foremost, good teeth allow a child to eat and maintain good nutrition. Healthy teeth allow for clear pronunciation and speech habits. The self-image that healthy teeth give a child is immeasurable. Primary teeth also guide eruption of the permanent teeth.


Kids Healthy Teeth – Keep a Good Diet

The teeth, bones and soft tissue of the mouth require a healthy, well-balanced diet. A variety of foods from the five food groups helps minimize (and avoid) cavities and other pediatric dental problems. Most snacks that children eat cause cavities, so children should only receive healthy foods, such as vegetables, low-fat yogurt and cheeses, which promote strong teeth.


Order of Baby Teeth Eruption

A child’s teeth actually start forming before birth. As early as 4 months of age, the primary or “baby” teeth push through the gums – the lower central incisors are first, then the upper central incisors. The remainder of the 20 primary teeth typically erupts by age 3, but the place and order varies.

Permanent teeth begin eruption around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process continues until around age 21. Adults have 28 secondary (permanent) teeth – 32 including the third molars (wisdom teeth).