Babies sure are hard! If you’re a new parent, you probably have more questions than you have answers. And with every answer you find, it seems another 10 questions are right behind it! You’ve got questions about what the crying means, about 2 a.m. feedings, about cloth diapers versus store-bought … the list is endless. And near the top of the list is likely to be questions about your baby’s blossoming teeth. How do you clean your baby’s mouth? When do you start brushing? What type of toothbrush and toothpaste should you use? What do you do about pain when you’re baby’s teething? Following are common questions about baby teeth that new parents have and answers from dentists that will help your baby’s teething experience go a little more smoothly.
How old will my baby be when she starts getting teeth?
Babies generally get their first teeth between the ages of 4 months and 8 months. Expect that first little burgeoning tooth around this time of her life, and be sure to make a big deal about it with your child. You want your baby to get used to physical changes in life, and a first tooth is the perfect time to begin noting milestones.
Health of Baby Teeth
It’s important to care for your baby’s mouth before he gets his first little tooth. Wipe his mouth with clean gauze on a regular basis, ideally after each meal. This helps to not only get rid of bacteria buildup, but it also helps discipline him to get on the path to a regular oral routine. This way, when his little baby teeth come in, his teeth and gums will be healthy, which is one of the reasons baby teeth matter regardless of the fact that they’ll just fall out anyway. Another important reason is that baby teeth lead to the development of adult teeth. They help structures such as the jaw and surrounding tissue to develop properly. If baby teeth are damaged or decayed, permanent adult teeth will not grow in the way they should.
What should I do about my baby’s loose tooth?
Most baby teeth fall out on their own. Remember back when you were a kid with a loose tooth. Sometimes your tooth fell out on its own, and sometimes you gave it a little nudge. Either way, a baby tooth pretty much knows when it’s time to take a hike and make room for adult teeth.
How will I know that my baby is teething?
Naturally, it can be difficult to distinguish a hungry cry from a thirsty cry from a wet cry from a teething cry. However, if your baby is at the right stage of development for teething, watch her behavior. If she’s putting something in her mouth and gumming it, she’s probably teething. Though it’s still a hotly debated subject whether teething actually causes pain, some of the widely accepted symptoms of teething include: fussiness, irritability, gum swelling, gumming or chewing behaviors, sleep problems, drooling, facial rash, and food refusal.
Discomfort during teething
- One of the most effective combatants of teething discomfort is to give your baby a teething ring or other object that he will be able to gum or chew on. Cold washcloths can also be effective. (Don’t chill these in the freezer, however.) You can even rub your finger along your baby’s gums to help soothe them. (Watch out, though, as baby may not want you to take that finger away!)
- Some foods can help to relieve baby’s teething discomfort. Plain yogurt or applesauce may help. Teething crackers such as Zwieback crackers can be especially effective for this time of baby’s life to help relieve any discomfort from teething. Be careful, though, as crackers at this age can cause choking.
- If you’re still having difficulty finding appropriate measures to relieve your baby’s teething discomfort, talk to your family dentist. You may even want to consider scheduling your baby’s first dental office visit at this time in his life. This way you’ll be able to confer with your family dentist with your baby right there in the office with you, in order to find helpful answers.
- Never try any medications for teething without consulting your baby’s physician beforehand. Some topical medications can produce side effects that, though they may be rare, can be life-threatening.
Teething can be a difficult time, for your baby and for you. But there are things you can do to ease your baby’s discomfort and give yourself a little peace of mind at the same time. The most important thing to remember is that, like so many other stages your baby goes through, this teething thing won’t last forever. Try a few of the above steps to minimize your baby’s fussiness and discomfort. Another thing to consider is to schedule an appointment at a dental office as your family dentist also has some solutions to the unpleasantness your baby is experiencing during teething.