One of those firsts is…you guessed it…teeth! Typically between the ages of 4-6 months old, your child will start to develop their primary teeth, and as a parent, here are a few things that you should know about caring for your child’s first few teeth that will set them up nicely for a health future!
Primary Teeth are Very Important!
Sometimes, parents ask us “why are primary teeth so important if they are going to fall out anyways?” That’s a great question! Here’s why:
Primary teeth are a critical step to ensure there is adequate spacing between teeth. Without adequate spacing, permanent teeth may not develop properly, and it’s possible there is a higher likelihood your child will need braces down the road.
The primary teeth provide structure and support for the mouth and face as your child grows (and we know how fast they grow during their first couple of years)!
While it’s easy to think that these aren’t permanent teeth so they aren’t important, that couldn’t be further from the truth! You should care for your child’s primary teeth just as you would for permanent, adult teeth.
Tips to Deal with Teething
Teething isn’t fun for babies or mom and dad, but it isn’t the end of the world (although it may seem like it when it’s 3am and your child won’t quit crying)! Here are a couple of tips to help your baby navigate through the teething stage:
We commonly recommend using Children’s Tylenol® or Children’s Motrin® to help ease your child’s pain during the teething process, and encourage you to speak to a pediatric dentist or your pediatrician about teething.
Give your baby something hard (but edible) to chew on that will help prepare their gums for tooth eruption. A carrot or cucumber is a great choice.
Don’t Put Your Baby to Bed with Milk
There’s a good chance your parents put you to sleep with a bottle of milk, but in reality this isn’t good for your child’s teeth.
The sugar in milk can lead to baby bottle tooth decay, and should be avoided right before bedtime. Of course it’s fine for your child to drink milk (provided they don’t have an allergy), but their teeth and gums should be cleaned after they drink milk before going to bed for the night.
How to Carefully Clean Primary Teeth
You should avoid using toothpaste to clean your child’s teeth until they are adequately able to swallow it. You can gently clean their new primary teeth and gums with a washcloth and warm water, and when they are old enough you can begin to use toothpaste.
Remember that your child’s teeth and gums are sensitive at this stage, so don’t be too rough!
Your Child’s First Dental Visit
As pediatric dentists (with years of specialized training to care for young children), we recommend your child see a pediatric dentist around their first birthday (if they are having any issues, feel free to bring them in even sooner).
At Children’s Dental Zone, we performed dental exams on young children around their first birthday to ensure their teeth and gums look healthy, and everything is developing on schedule. Since we so so many young children, we will be able to see immediately if something is out of the ordinary with your child and needs attention.