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Health Library : Dental and Oral Health

 

Teething

Care of Baby Teeth

Once your baby gets a tooth, good dental care should begin. Clean your baby's teeth once a day with a soft, wet cloth. At 12 months of age, a small, soft toothbrush with water on it can be used. As your child gets older, a small dab of toothpaste can be used on the toothbrush. Consult your child's dentist regarding the best time for your child to begin using toothpaste.

Do not give your baby a bottle in bed to fall asleep. If your baby drinks from a bottle and then falls asleep, milk or juice will stay on the teeth and cause tooth decay.

Baby teeth are important. Teeth are needed to chew food and form sounds when talking. Baby teeth also save space in the mouth for permanent teeth, making it particularly important to take care of them.

What is teething?

A baby's first tooth usually appears between the ages of five and seven months. Some babies get their first tooth a little earlier and others a little later. Often, the two middle bottom teeth come through the gums first, followed by the middle four upper teeth. By the time children are 30 months (two and one-half years) of age, all 20 baby teeth are usually present.

Teething is the process of teeth moving and breaking through the gums. This is a normal developmental stage for your baby.

What are the signs and symptoms of teething?

The following are the most common signs and symptoms of teething. However, each baby may experience symptoms differently. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Drooling more than usual (drooling may start as early as three or four months of age, but is not always a sign of teething)
  • Constantly putting fingers or fists in the mouth (babies like to chew on things whether or not they are teething)
  • Swollen, or puffy area on gum
  • Fussiness or crankiness

Teething does not cause colds, rashes, diarrhea, or fever, but it can make a baby uncomfortable. If your baby becomes sick around the same time teeth are coming in, or seems to be cranky or fussy for longer than normal, it is important to evaluate the symptoms of that illness independently of the teething. Call your child's doctor for advice if your baby is sick.

How can you help your child with the discomforts of teething?

If your baby is cranky with teething, try giving him/her hard rubber toys, teething rings, or cold teething toys to chew on. Do not freeze teething toys or rings as these can hurt your baby's gums. You can also rub your baby's gum with your finger. Teething gels may not be helpful as they are quickly washed off if excessive drooling is present, which may cause the effect of the gels to be short-lived. Something cold on the gums usually soothes and numbs the gums better. Ask your baby's doctor about pain-relieving medications for teething.

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