How to Care for Your Baby’s Teeth
If you are having any symptoms or have any questions, please call 811 to speak with a registered nurse 24 hours a day.
Healthy teeth are important to your baby’s overall health. Teeth help your baby chew food and form words and sounds when speaking. They also affect the way your baby’s jaw grows.
When will my baby’s teeth appear?
Most babies’ first teeth start to come in at around 6 months. Some start teething a little earlier, some a little later. When your baby starts teething, you may notice that he or she will start to drool more or may want to chew on things. The first teeth to come in are usually the 2 bottom front teeth.
What can I do to help my teething baby?
Teething may be painless, but sometimes it can make babies uncomfortable and fussy. Teething does not cause a fever.
Contact your healthcare provider if your baby has a fever. The following can help relieve your baby’s discomfort:
- Give your baby a cold teething ring or a cold washcloth to chew or suck on.
- Rub your baby’s gum with a clean finger.
- Ask your healthcare provider if you can give your baby infant’s acetaminophen (brand name: Tylenol). Do not give your baby aspirin. Aspirin can cause Reye’s syndrome, a serious illness that can lead to death in children under 18 years old.
Don’t use teething gels. They can affect your baby’s health or cause choking by making the throat numb.
What about breastfeeding, bottles and sippy cups?
Teething does not have to interfere with breastfeeding. You can continue to breastfeed your baby as usual if they start teething. If you give your baby a bottle, always hold the baby when you feed them. Do not leave a bottle in the crib. And do not let your baby fall asleep with a bottle. The milk can pool in your baby’s mouth and cause tooth decay.
For the same reason, do not give your baby a sippy cup of juice or milk in the crib. Your baby can start using a cup when he or she is about 6 months of age. Stop giving your baby a bottle when he or she is 1 year of age.
Don’t let your baby carry around a sippy cup or take it to bed with them. Continually sipping milk or juice can lead to tooth decay. Juice and flavored milk have a lot of sugar in them.
When should I start brushing my baby’s teeth?
Start cleaning your baby’s teeth twice a day as soon as the first tooth appears. For children under 3, the Canadian Dental Association says that unless there is a risk for tooth decay, you should use plain water to brush your baby’s teeth. If your baby is not at risk for tooth decay, brush your child’s teeth and gums with a child-sized toothbrush and water, If your baby is at risk for tooth decay, brush their teeth and gums with a child-sized toothbrush and a small smear of toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice).
When should I take my baby to the dentist?
Be sure to take your baby to a dentist by their first birthday, especially if there is a high risk for cavities or any other problems with his or her teeth. It is better for your child to meet the dentist and see the office before they have a tooth problem.
A Practical Guide to Infant Oral Health by JM Douglass, B.D.S., D.D.S, AB Douglass, M.D., and HJ Silk, M.D. (12/01/04, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20041201/2113.html)