Your baby’s first tooth will probably appear between the ages of 5 and 7 months, though some may get their first tooth a little earlier, and others a little later. Most often, the two middle bottom teeth pop through first, followed by the middle two upper teeth. By the time your child is about 2 ½ years old, all 20 baby teeth will most likely be present.
While each child experiences teething differently, the most common symptoms of teething include drooling more than usual, constantly putting fingers or fists in the mouth, swollen or puffy areas on the gum, and fussiness or crankiness. They may even run a low grade fever.
Try giving your child a hard rubber toy, teething ring, or cold teething toy to chew on. Don’t freeze teething rings – this can hurt your baby’s gums. You may also rub their gums with your finger, or with a cold, clean washcloth. Teething gels aren’t needed, or even particularly helpful, because they are quickly washed off with drooling.
Early Dental Care
Proper dental care begins even before that first baby tooth appears. Remember, just because you can’t see teeth, doesn’t mean they aren’t there! Teeth actually begin to form in the second trimester of pregnancy, and by the time he’s born, your baby has 20 primary teeth, some of which are fully developed in the jaw.
Toothbrushes aren’t necessary at first – simply rubbing a damp washcloth across your child’s gums after a feeding can prevent a buildup of bacteria. Once your child has their first few teeth, you can brush them with a soft toothbrush made especially for children, or rub them with a piece of gauze at the end of the day.
Dental decay can be a problem for your baby if you don’t practice good feeding habits at home. Putting your child to bed with a bottle may be convenient, but it can be detrimental to your child’s oral health. The sugars from juice or milk have time to pool around the teeth for hours and may eat away at the enamel, creating a condition known as nursing carries. The results of bottle mouth may include pocked, pitted, or discolored front teeth, and in severe cases may cause cavities and the need to remove all the front teeth until the permanent ones grow in. Breast feeding can cause similar problems.
Once your child has all of their primary teeth, brushing twice a day and routine flossing can help maintain a health mouth. As young as 2 or 3, your child can begin to use toothpaste when brushing. Just make sure that it’s only a pea-sized amount or less; most children this age are not good at spitting out the excess paste
Our office is a vital part of your child’s oral health. We want to see children mature to enjoy a lifetime of beautiful, bright smiles, so make sure that we know about all medical and dental problems when you come in, and follow all of our oral health recommendations for your child. When you combine top-notch professional dental care and scrupulous oral habits at home, those exceptional smiles become reality.
Fluoride exists naturally in water sources and is derived from fluorine, a common element in the Earth’s crust. Fluoride helps prevent and even reverse the early stages of tooth decay.
Tooth decay occurs when bacteria breaks down the sugars in food. This process produces damaging acids that dissolve those hard enamel surfaces of teeth. If this damage is allowed to go unchecked, the bacteria can penetrate through the enamel surface to the underlying tooth tissues, causing cavities (or caries, as we call them). These cavities can weaken teeth and cause pain, tooth loss, or even a widespread infection.
Fluoride combats this tooth decay in two ways. First, it strengthens the existing tooth enamel so that it can better resist the acids that attack it. Second, fluoride allows teeth already damaged by acid to repair themselves. Fluoride can’t repair cavities, but it can reverse low levels of tooth decay and prevent new cavities from forming.
Fluoride is crucial to the health of your child’s developing teeth. Despite all of the latest advances in dental care, and improved parent and patient education, tooth decay is still one of the most common diseases of childhood, affecting more than half of children ages 5 to 9 years, and 78% of 17-year-olds. (U. S. Surgeon General, 2000).
Almost 66% of the U. S. population receives fluoridated water through the taps in their homes. With the expansion of the bottled water industry, children are becoming less exposed to the fluoride in tap water. While bottled water producers claim that bottled water is safer, purer, and better tasting, bottled water lacks fluoride. The notable exception is fluoridated bottled water, usually found in the baby-food aisle at grocery stores.
If your water comes from a public system, call your local water authority or public health department, or check online at the Environment Protection Agency’s database of local water safety reports to determine the fluoride levels. If you use well water or water from a private source, fluoride levels should be checked by a laboratory or public health department.
Some advocacy groups claim that the addition of fluoride to the water supply is dangerous and damaging, and they point to toxicity warnings on toothpaste as proof that any substance needing such careful dosing must be dangerous. In response, the National Institutes of Health reviewed research. It agreed with the activists that many studies in this area are of poor quality. However, the NIH concluded that the unevenness of research does not invalidate the clear benefits of fluoride, and even proposed that the dramatic reductions in tooth decay in the past 30 years are due in part to fluoridation of the water supply.
Excessive fluoride can be dangerous, though your child would need to ingest a fairly large amount of toothpaste, mouth rinse, or other fluoride-containing product to be harmed. If you suspect that your child has eaten a substantial amount of a fluoridated product, call the poison control center or 911. Symptoms will include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, increased salivation, or increased thirst. Be sure to keep fluoride-containing products out of children’s reach, and supervise your young child’s toothbrushing sessions to prevent swallowing toothpaste.
We can answer any questions you may have about the fluoridation of your drinking water, and the best approaches to making sure that your child is exposed to adequate levels of fluoride.