You are here

Age-by-Age Guide to Baby's Dental Health

Your baby's smile is one the most precious things about her. Even though her first set of teeth is just temporary, each tooth is important. Tooth decay can cause infections that could make baby sick, and losing baby teeth too soon can affect the way adult teeth come in and may lead to speech-development problems. So even before that first tooth pop through her gums, you should be preparing for their arrival.

Prep Work: 0 to 6 Months
Baby teeth can arrive anywhere between 3 and 12 months, though the average is closer to 6 months. Teeth are formed in utero, so those prenatal vitamins you took (they contain tooth-friendly minerals like calcium and phosphorus) play a role in your baby's tooth development.
What to watch for You might see some discoloration of the gum where the tooth is going to pop up (called an eruption cyst). It's nothing to worry about. A newly erupting tooth maybe preceded by a bruise (hematoma) or an eruption cyst. Both disappear as the new tooth emerges. The hematoma is more common than the cyst.
What you should do Get into the habit of wiping your little one's gums with a finger brush, a piece of gauze or a clean washcloth. Before a tooth breaks the surface, there may be a small opening in the gum where bacteria can hide and cause a cavity. When that little tooth does poke out, clean it with a washcloth or baby toothbrush moistened with water. Do it after your baby's morning meal and before bed so it becomes part of his regular routine. The last thing in your baby's mouth before bed should be a toothbrush or water.
Seeing a dentist A visit to the dentist should happen within six months of the appearance of the first tooth, so start checking around now for a dentist who is comfortable taking care of young children. Ask your friends and your pediatrician for recommendation. Consider pediatric dentists and those in a family dental practice.