At about six months (sometimes four months) your baby’s teeth will start to emerge. Between six months and one year, his front teeth will be visible.
Your baby’s central incisors will come out anytime between the sixth and 10th months (some even as early as the fourth). This will be followed by the lateral incisors at 10 or 16 months.
By his first birthday, your baby should already be taken to his first dental appointment. Dentists who specialize in the care of the teeth of babies and children are known as pedodontists.
When your baby starts teething
Signs that will show you your baby is already teething:
- Drooling more than usual
- Reddish, swollen gums
- Flushed, red cheeks
- Sucking on his fingers or toys
- Biting into his clothes or linen
- Mild swelling of the cheeks/jaw
- Slight fever
What to do when teeth emerge
Here are some tips on how to deal with your baby’s teething and how relieve him of possible pain and discomfort:
- Give your baby a teething ring made of firm material. Try putting the teething ring in the refrigerator for a while. Do not freeze it though, just make it a little cold. Avoid teething rings made of very tough materials; they can injure your baby’s gums.
- Teething gels are now available. These numb your baby’s gums if he is already in great discomfort.
- For fever and/or gum pain, infant paracetamol may be used. Ask your pediatrician first for the appropriate dose.
- Discourage your baby from biting into everything he sees. You do not want him to put dirty objects into his mouth.
- When his teeth are already out, clean them with a cotton ball or sterile gauze moistened with sterile water at bedtime to remove food and milk residues that may have accumulated during the day.
- You may introduce him to using a soft bristled toothbrush if he is already a year old and he already knows how to spit. But you should be the one to do the brushing for him. This will not be too much of a problem since his teeth are all in front. You may also brush the tongue where bacteria may collect.
- Use toothpaste with fluoride but make sure he does not swallow it. Fluoride, a naturally occurring element makes the enamel (outer covering) of the teeth stronger and resistant to acid attack from the food and bacteria in the mouth.
What products to use for oral hygiene
Use mild and non-allergenic products for your baby’s oral hygiene. He will need a toothbrush and toothpaste specifically made for children. And adult toothbrush, aside from being inappropriately large, has firmer bristles that can harm your baby’s gums. Ordinary adult toothpaste might be too harsh for him. He may find the flavor too strong.
Don’t give your baby milk, juice, or sweetened drinks right before bedtime. These are acidic and letting him drink these every night will destroy the coating of your baby’s teeth and make lead to cavities.
By the time he reaches his first birthday, brushing before bedtime will help prevent cavities.