The teething timeline is a great tool for parents who want to make sure their child's teeth are well cared for from the very beginning of life. When you know approximately when teeth are expected to erupt, you know when to take the next step with your baby's oral hygiene. When should you start brushing? What is the best time to make the first pediatric dental appointment? What about care before those first teeth arrive? You can use the timeline every step of the way to help you gauge when it is time to evolve your baby's oral care agenda.
The Pre-Eruption Era
Did you know there are things you can do to take care of primary teeth before your baby starts teething? Infants already have a partially developed set of baby teeth when they are born; the teeth are simply not yet visible because they exist under the gumline. Don't wait until you notice excess drooling and increased irritability associated with teething to start thinking about oral care.
To take care of infant teeth and help prevent early childhood cavities, there are several things you can do. First, do not put your baby to sleep with a bottle of milk or juice. If he is comforted by sucking, then offer him a bottle of water or a pacifier. Milk and juice contain sugar, and exposing your baby's mouth to these liquids for long periods of time is harmful. For the first few months until primary teeth start to erupt, you can wipe your baby's gums with a clean cloth or gauze square after nursing or feeding.
Another thing you can do is make sure your baby is getting enough fluoride. This natural mineral can strengthen teeth even before they emerge. If your drinking water is not enriched with fluoride, ask your pediatrician about using fluoride drops.
Around six months of age, the first teeth usually push through the gumline. The teething timeline is not, however, set in stone. Some babies do not have their first tooth until closer to one year of age. The incisors, the four front teeth on the upper and lower jaw, are often some of the first teeth to be visible. The canines and molars usually show up later. According to the eruption chart of the American Dental Association (ADA), these teeth generally erupt between ages one and three.
Once the first teeth are visible, it is time to start brushing. You can brush with water and a gentle toothbrush that has been designed for developing teeth, like Colgate® My First™ Colgate toothbrushes. Brushing away sugars and food particles after meals can help prevent tooth decay.
The First Birthday
According to the teething timeline, teeth may start to erupt between six months and one year of age. The eruption process continues over the next two years. Should you wait until your baby has several teeth to make an appointment with the dentist? No. For a healthy smile, you should schedule the first pediatric dental checkup when the first tooth erupts, or at least by your baby's first birthday. A pediatric dentist can monitor your child's oral development and offer invaluable advice about how to care for baby teeth.