It’s normal to have many questions about your baby’s teeth. After all, it’s been a long time since your first pearly white came in! Every parent wants to do their best to set their children up for success, and caring for their teeth is part of ensuring a healthy bite in adulthood. To help you care for your baby’s new gnashers, let’s take a closer look at what parents need to know about baby teeth.
The Low-Down on Oral Care
The truth is you should start caring for your baby’s teeth before the first one comes in, as bacteria can easily build up on the gums, especially after feeding. It’s best to clean their gums, cheeks, and tongue twice a day with a clean, damp washcloth to remove leftover food.
Once your baby’s first tooth emerges, you can introduce a baby toothbrush with a rice grain-sized smear of fluoride toothpaste and brush twice a day. Getting them into this habit early makes it much easier to teach them how to brush their teeth and get them to stick to it later on in life.
Average Developmental Timeline
In general, your baby’s first teeth will emerge when they’re between 6 and 12 months old or as early as 4 months. Their set of impermanent teeth should finish emerging around the age of 4. If your baby has not developed any teeth by the time they are 12 months old, it’s time for a visit to the dentist. Typically, teeth come in pairs, usually beginning with the central incisors, then the lateral incisor, the first molar, the canines, and ending with the second molar. Your baby should have 20 teeth: 10 on the top and 10 on the bottom.
Losing Teeth Early
One of the most important things that parents need to know about their baby’s teeth is that they can lose their teeth too early. On average, your child’s teeth shouldn’t begin to fall out before the age of 4. While it’s relatively rare for baby teeth to fall out on their own accord, it can happen. If a tooth does fall out, it’s usually because of an injury or some form of tooth decay.
While these teeth are impermanent, they are important placeholders for permanent teeth, and if lost too early, their bite can become crooked or misaligned. If a tooth does fall out too early, a visit to the dentist is important, as an orthodontist can ensure their future bite is healthy.
When To Worry
Most of the time, your baby’s teeth will develop normally and without a fuss, but there are some things to look out for during the teething state and after their first tooth emerges. One of the most common misconceptions about baby teething is that this process can make babies sick—this is untrue. While your baby may be in some pain, teething does not cause fever, rash, diarrhea, or any symptoms of illness.
If your baby gets sick while teething, take them to the pediatrician. If teeth grow dark or black, come out crooked, or don’t start emerging on time, speak with their doctor to determine the best course of action.