Ever wondered when your baby will start getting teeth? Or what to expect when they do? Dr Samantha Byrne from The Tooth Fairy is writing for us again today and she’s back with answers to 7 questions about baby teeth. She lectures in oral microbiology and preventive dentistry at The University of Melbourne. As a former dentist with a PhD in oral microbiology she has great deal of knowledge about the bacterial that live in the mouth and how to prevent them from causing disease.
Babies and teeth can be a topic that brings tears to the eyes of parents. Today I am going to answer some very common questions about baby teeth and how to care for them.
When will my baby start getting teeth?
Children usually start getting teeth at between 4 and 10 months of age, and by the age of around 3 will have their full set of 20 baby (also called deciduous or milk) teeth. These times are just an indication, so if you are worried speak to your dentist.
What can I expect when my baby is teething?
This topic definitely deserves a post of its own! Some babies (and parents!) manage to experience teething unscathed, with others seeming to have a much tougher time and irritability and drooling are consistently reported. A cool teething ring, distraction and plenty of cuddles may help.
They are just baby teeth…are they really that important?
Even though they don’t stay in the mouth forever, baby teeth play an important role in helping children talk and eat, and they help hold the space for the adult teeth. Importantly, tooth decay in baby teeth can be painful, can lead to infections and time off school. It is not uncommon for children to need a general anesthetic to treat tooth decay in their baby teeth but by preventing tooth decay, this can be avoided.
When do I need to start brushing my baby’s teeth?
To keep all those little teeth in tip-top shape it is time to start brushing as soon as the first tooth appears. This is often easiest to do with baby lying down on your lap or a bed. As they get older you might find it easier to brush while they are sitting on your lap.
Do I need to use toothpaste on the baby teeth?
Toothpaste is not needed until 18 months of age, after which a very small amount of low fluoride toothpaste can be used.
What sort of toothbrush should I use?
There are a variety of different brushes designed for babies and toddlers. You should look for a brush with a small head (easier to move around a little mouth) and nice soft bristles (gentle on little gums).
When should I take my child to the dentist for the first time?
The Australian Dental Association recommends that children have their first visit to see a dentist when their first tooth comes through, or by the time they are 1 year old.
This may seem early, but the earlier your child visits the dentist the better!
This is not only so your dentist can check your child’s teeth, but so they can talk to you about how to eat, drink and clean well to prevent tooth decay. Your dentist will also assess your child’s risk for tooth decay, and give advice on how to lower this risk. Visiting the dentist early and regularly also makes going to the dentist a normal experience.
View other feature articles
5 tips for a tooth friendly diet – view here
5 top tips for preventing tooth decay – view here
About Dr Samantha Byrne
For the past 13 years, Samantha has been lecturing in oral microbiology and preventive dentistry at The University of Melbourne. As a former dentist with a PhD in oral microbiology, Samantha has great deal of knowledge about the bacterial that live in the mouth and how to prevent them from causing disease. She particularly passionate about helping parents understand the relationship between diet and oral health, particularly in light of increasing rates of childhood tooth decay.
As a mum to 3 little boys aged 9, 6 and 4 Samantha started The Tooth Fairy as a vehicle for simple, practical information about how to maintain healthy teeth and gums.
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