The arrival of the first tooth is a milestone in your baby's development. It's never too early to prepare your baby and yourself for oral care and visits to the dentist. Knowing when to expect that first tooth will help lay the groundwork for your child to develop good dental hygiene habits.
When to Expect Teething
When do babies start teething? Most babies begin teething at about 4 to 7 months of age. The first tooth is generally an incisor on the bottom jaw near the center of the mouth. The second tooth usually erupts right next to it a short time later.
It's possible that your baby will be uncomfortable for a few days before the tooth breaks through the gum tissue. There are certain indications that the tooth is on its way:
- Profuse drooling.
- Reddened, swollen gums.
- A slight fever.
WebMD recommends helping your baby through this difficult period by offering him a teething ring or other toy specifically designed for teething babies. You can also massage his gums and let him chew or bite a cold teething device. Special medications can also help, but be sure to consult with your pediatrician first.
Over the next several years, your child will continue to sprout new teeth. The top front incisors usually grow in next. The other teeth follow one or two at a time from front to back, ending with the molars.
Preparing for Your Baby's First Teeth
You can start preparing for your baby's teeth long before they arrive. You will have to take care of your baby's gums and teeth until he can perform this important duty for himself. Getting him used to your care early will help down the road when you start using a toothbrush to prevent cavities.
Start your child's dental hygiene habits by wiping his gums with a soft cloth or gauze square. As teeth begin to arrive, use the cloth or gauze to clean them too. When enough teeth have erupted in his mouth, you can graduate to a soft toothbrush made specially for children. Be sure to use a children's toothpaste like Colgate's® My First™ Infant and Toddler Toothpaste, which does not contain fluoride when they are babies and is safe if swallowed. Ask your dentist how much to use for each brushing; a general guideline is to use only a pea-sized bit of paste.
The First Trip to the Dentist
The question "When do babies start teething?" is usually followed by "When should I take my child to the dentist?" Some dentists prefer to see young patients as soon as the first teeth arrive. According to WebMD, a child's first dental appointment should occur no later than the first birthday.
Aside from getting him used to oral care, there are other ways to prepare your baby for the first visit to the dentist:
- Playing dentist at home.
- Watching DVDs that discuss dentistry in a kid-friendly fashion.
- Visiting the office ahead of time for a sneak peek at what goes on inside.
All of these activities will help your child feel more comfortable with this new experience. Relieving anxiety and answering questions ahead of time will go a long way toward ensuring that future dental care experiences are good ones.
Ongoing Dental Care
As your child grows older, you should continue to help keep his teeth clean and healthy until he's able to do it for himself. Let your child give it a try on his own if he seems willing. There are plenty of kid-friendly dental tools, such as Colgate® Transformers™ toothpaste and toothbrushes, that are easier for children to grip and maneuver. These tools will facilitate your child's success from the first solo flight. Be sure to do a second brushing afterward to ensure that his teeth are clean.
By preparing for your baby's first teeth and teaching him how to take care of them, you will lay the groundwork for a bright, healthy smile. You can also make it more likely that the first visit to the dentist will be pleasant by helping him prepare ahead of time.