Infants tend to get their first teeth between 3 and 12 months of age. Once those teeth start coming in, it can be uncomfortable for your baby. Parents should learn the signs of teething as well as healthy ways to help soothe their baby’s pain.
On top of all of that, parents have to practice good infant mouth care habits, from bringing baby to the dentist to cleaning their new teeth and gums. If all of this seems a little overwhelming, don’t worry. Here are some of the most important things to consider when your child has baby teeth coming in.
A Toothy Timeline
While all babies will get their teeth at different times, there is a general timeline during which your infant will start to get their teeth. Typically, your baby’s teeth with come in this order:
- 6 months: lower central incisors
- 8 months: upper central incisors
- 10 months: lower and upper lateral incisors
- 14 months: first molars
- 18 months: canines
- 24 months: second molars
Of course, if your infant has baby teeth coming in on a different timeline, there’s likely nothing to worry about. It’s not uncommon for some children to develop a little differently. Your baby’s dentist can keep track of their teeth and make sure everything is happening just as it should.
The Signs of Teething
How can you tell when your child has baby teeth coming in? There are plenty of signs and symptoms to watch out for that indicate that your child has begun teething, including:
- Drooling: As new teeth come in, it stimulates drooling in babies. Drooling is common in infants 10 weeks to 3 or 4 months of age.
- Rash: Constant drooling can cause chafing and redness around your baby’s mouth and chin.
- Coughing and/or gag reflex: The buildup of saliva can cause babies to gag and cough.
- Biting: The pressure from incoming teeth can cause pain for your baby, and many babies try to alleviate that pressure with counter-pressure from biting down.
- Crying: As new teeth come in, they cause inflammation to your baby’s gum tissue. It’s common for babies to respond to this pain by crying.
- Irritability: An achy mouth can make your baby grumpy or fussy. This may last just a few hours, but can also occur for a few days.
- Refusing to eat: The suction of a bottle or nursing can further irritate your baby’s sore gums, and they may refuse to eat.
- Night waking: The pain of baby teeth coming in extends to the nighttime, too. If your infant starts waking up during the night, it may be due to teething.
- Ear pulling and cheek rubbing: The nerves in your baby’s gums, ears, and cheeks are connected. If your baby has aching gums, that pain can spread to their ears and cheeks, resulting in this behavior.
All babies experience the teething period differently. You might find that your child shows almost no symptoms, while other children may feel discomfort for months. Knowing what signs to look for will help you care for your baby as they go through this important step.
Top Teething Remedies
If your baby is experiencing any of the symptoms of teething from their baby teeth coming in, they don’t have to endure that discomfort forever. There are lots of infant mouth care strategies that can help relieve the pain of teething. Not all teething solutions are created equal, so be sure to stick to ones that are dentist-approved, like these:
- Chewing: Most infants with baby teeth coming in love to chew. It provides counter-pressure against the teeth coming in, which helps relieve discomfort. Teething babies will likely chew on whatever they can get their hands on, so parents should be careful. Biting down on hard items like toys can damage teeth. Provide teething babies with soft, safe options like teething rings or wet washcloths. Keeping these cold (but not freezing) can also help with the pain.
- Counter-pressure: Chewing isn’t the only way to apply soothing counter-pressure. Parents can use clean fingers or soft toothbrushes to press on their babies gums.
- Cold drinks: Babies over 6 months of age can try a bottle of cold water. The temperature can help soothe their gums.
- Cold food: Refrigerated foods may be more appealing to your teething baby than warm or room temperature foods. Try yogurt, applesauce, or other cold fruits.
- Pain medicine: If your baby can’t seem to find any comfort from other remedies, talk to your pediatrician about using baby acetaminophen to help soothe their pain. This can be especially helpful if your baby is having trouble sleeping through the night.
Parents should avoid using numbing agents on their baby’s teeth and gums. According to the Food and Drug Administration, topical numbing agents can put children under 2 years of age at risk of reduced oxygen levels in their blood. Instead, stick to safe, dentist-approved methods for soothing your baby’s achy mouth.
Infant Mouth Care Tips for Parents
Once your baby has some teeth, that means it’s time to get into a routine of cleaning and caring for them. You can clean your baby’s teeth with a warm, wet washcloth, or use a soft-bristled toothbrush and water. This prevents any plaque from building up, which can result in tooth decay. Be sure to clean their gums as well.
When looking for your child’s first toothbrush, look for a toothbrush with soft bristles. With baby teeth coming in, your infant’s gums will already be sensitive, so avoid hard bristles that can irritate them further. Skip any brushes that have added rubber bristles. They don’t provide any added benefit, and only serve to further irritate your baby’s gums.
Make sure you look for a child-size toothbrush. It may seem like a silly thing, but consider how much smaller your baby’s mouth is than your own. An adult-size toothbrush won’t fit comfortably in your baby’s mouth and will make tooth brushing less effective.
You should replace your child’s toothbrush every 3 months or when the bristles start to fray, whichever comes first. Using a toothbrush with misshapen or frayed bristles makes toothbrushing less effective.
When your child is 18 months old, you can start using a pea-sized amount of low-fluoride toothpaste when brushing your baby’s teeth. Your child can spit out the toothpaste, but shouldn’t rinse their mouth.
Avoid Baby Bottle Decay
Now that your child has baby teeth coming in, parents should take action to help prevent any tooth decay. One of the biggest culprits of tooth decay in children is what’s known as baby bottle decay. This occurs when parents put their baby to sleep with a bottle. The infant may fall asleep with the bottle in their mouth, resulting in the teeth experiencing a prolonged exposure to the milk or other liquid in the bottle. When this liquid is left to pool around the teeth, plaque can build up on the teeth. If your child regularly sleeps with a bottle, they can develop caries on their teeth from tooth decay.
Baby bottle decay most often affects the front teeth. It can appear as visible signs of decay like black or brown spots on the tooth, but it can also cause swollen gums. If your baby shows any symptoms, be sure to book an appointment with your family dentist in Las Vegas to get them the proper infant oral care right away.
The good news about baby bottle decay is that it’s completely avoidable. Keep your baby’s teeth healthy by avoiding putting them to sleep with a bottle. If they feed at night, hold them while they drink from the bottle, then remove the bottle when they’re done. This limits the teeth’s exposure to the liquid and thus helps reduce plaque buildup.
There’s a lot to fuss about when your child has baby teeth coming in. While you help soothe their sore gums, don’t forget about the most important infant mouth care routine of all — the dentist. Babies should have their first dental appointment within 6 months of the eruption of their first tooth.
Now that you know the signs of teething, you’ll also know when to schedule that first appointment. Your baby’s dentist will make sure their teeth are coming in normally and can help you learn all of the ways to care for your child’s new teeth. Your baby’s first dental appointment will primarily be informative, but learning how to care for those baby teeth coming in will help set your child up for a lifetime of good oral health. Contact us at Children’s Dentistry to make your child’s first dental appointment today.