A baby is born with all 20 baby teeth already formed beneath the gums. The teeth begin to erupt around six months of age. At about three years of age, most children have a full set of baby teeth in their mouth.
Your baby’s oral health requires care beginning a couple of days after birth. You do not need to use toothpaste, but gently wiping the gums with a wet gauze or wet washcloth at bathtime. We do this to remove bacteria. While bacteria cannot harm the teeth before they emerge through the gums, it is difficult to know when the teeth are beginning to push through.
Avoid putting your baby to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, juice or any other sweetened liquid. Allowing your baby to sleep with sweetened liquid feeds the bacteria in the mouth and causes tooth decay.
When baby teeth first come in, baby’s gums can become sore and tender. Gently rubbing his or her gums with a clean finger or cool spoon can feel soothing. Teething rings can also feel good, just make sure the teething ring is clean.
Baby teeth are very important to overall health for a variety of reasons. Baby teeth help the child chew, smile, and speak. They hold space in the jaw for the adult teeth that are coming. If baby teeth are lost too soon, adult teeth can drift into the free space when they come in, making the teeth crowded and crooked.
Baby’s first visit to the dentist should be no later than the first birthday. What happens during this visit is simply a checkup. Your dentist will ensure the baby’s teeth are healthy and check for cavities. The dentist will show you how to properly clean your baby’s teeth and answer any questions you may have.
Talk to your dentist about any concerns or questions you may have about your child’s teeth. Before you take your child to the dentist, talk to your child about what to expect in a way that will bring good expectations. Have your child practice opening his or her mouth wide so they feel ready for the dentist. Write down any questions you may want to ask the dentist about caring for your child’s teeth and gums.
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