Whether you are expecting your first child, grandchild or care for someone else’s baby, it is important to know that the first year of life contains the most major growth spurts and changes. The teeth are also part of this rapid growth process. The development of the primary (baby) teeth actually begins while the baby is in the womb. At about five weeks’ gestation, the first buds of primary teeth appear in the baby’s jaws. At birth, the baby actually has a full set of 20 primary teeth (10 upper/10 lower) hidden within the gums.
The teeth usually do not erupt until at least six months, and in order to keep them pearly white, they really need to be treated as precious pearls. Many of the new parents that visit our office still have important questions about what to do and what to expect at the very early phases of primary teeth development. Here is some helpful information that you may want to keep or pass on to new or expecting parents.
Park View's Point of View
Taking care of your baby’s new teeth on a daily basis may seem like a chore, but it is a very important, necessary parental job. In a recent article in Real Simple magazine, it was reported that, “Cavities are the single most common chronic childhood disease in America, affecting one in four kids ages 2 to 5.” Therefore, being the “Tooth Police” right from the start will pay off toward a future of cavity-free dental visits.
New Born to One Year
• Normally the first tooth erupts between the ages of 6 to 12 months. Teeth often arrive in pairs and usually the bottom teeth erupt first.
• Gums are often sore, tender and sometimes irritable. 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 and teething biscuits can be used, but be careful that your baby does not bite off a piece that he/she can choke on.
• As soon as the first tooth appears, it's time to begin an at-home routine of brushing twice a day— after breakfast and before bed is recommended. Use a soft, small-headed toothbrush and water to remove food, bacteria and debris in the mouth, as well as sticky plaque. Don't use toothpaste until your child is old enough to rinse and spit on their own (usually over two years old).
• While your baby is teething, it is important to monitor the teeth for signs of baby bottle decay. Examine the teeth, especially on the inside, or the tongue side, of the top front teeth every couple of weeks for brown spotting. At PVPD, we are dedicated to fighting baby bottle decay and request that our parents notify us if they see these early signs.
• Baby bottle decay is caused by prolonged intake of sugary liquids like milk, formula and fruit juices. A bottle containing anything other than water and left in an infant’s mouth while sleeping can cause decay. This happens because sugar in the liquid mixes with bacteria in dental plaque, forming acids that attack the tooth enamel. While awake, the length of the bottle time for milk, formula and juice is monitored, plus 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 plaque.
• The primary, or “baby,” teeth play a crucial role in dental development and guide the permanent teeth into place. Therefore, infants with missing primary teeth or infants who prematurely lose primary teeth may require a space maintainer, a device used to hold the natural space open for the adult teeth.
• At PVPD, we share the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s recommendation that the first dental visit should be scheduled by the first birthday. At our office we stress the importance of making the first visit a positive and enjoyable, experience— complete with cartoon viewing, goodies, rewards and games. We believe that this sets the stage for a positive dental attitude and a lifetime of excellent oral health.
Contact us at:
Park View Pediatric Dentistry