This week, we learned that Prince George, the royal baby, now has his first teeth! Here’s a few tips on caring for your own little prince or princess’ new teeth.
Your baby's first tooth will most likely be a bottom front one, appearing when he or she is about six months old. However, a few babies are born with a tooth through already. Others are still toothless at age 1! All babies are different and some just prefer to take their time. Your baby will eventually have 20 baby teeth, all of which should be through by the time they are about two and a half years old. You can start caring for your baby’s teeth before they even start coming through. Take a soft, moistened washcloth, and gently wipe down your baby’s gums at least twice a day, especially after feedings and before bedtime. This will wash off bacteria and prevent them from clinging to your baby’s gums. Bacteria can leave behind a sticky plaque that could damage baby teeth as they start to come through.
When the teeth start coming through, it’s time to start brushing! Get your baby used to the idea by using a small-headed, soft toothbrush, wet the bristles slightly, and brush the teeth gently front and back. After age 2 you can start to use a toothpaste containing fluoride, but make sure it’s a special children’s toothpaste as the fluoride level is lower. Fluoride is an important ingredient in toothpaste as it helps strengthen tooth enamel, but too much fluoride can actually cause problems in the teeth that are still forming below the gums. You should brush your baby's teeth until he or she is old enough to hold the brush. Continue to supervise brushing until your child can brush adequately and spit out toothpaste without assistance. That usually happens at around age 7, but don’t worry if it takes longer, the main thing is to make sure they’re well looked after.
In addition to caring for baby teeth, you need to protect them. Baby teeth are not as strong as adult teeth, so extra special care is needed. To prevent tooth decay, only fill your baby's bottle with breast milk, formula milk or water. Avoid giving your child fruit juices and fizzy drinks. Bacteria feed on the sugar from sweet drinks and produce acid, which attacks your baby's teeth. If you have to send your baby to bed or naps with a bottle or sippy cup, fill it with water only. Also avoid putting anything sweet - such as sugar or honey - on your baby's dummy.
Many parents wonder when is the right time to start bringing their child to the dentist. The answer is, it’s never too early! Even before baby has teeth, it’s a good idea to bring them along to your dental check-ups to get them used to the environment and comfortable with the sights and sounds. When the first teeth start coming through, or at age 1 (whichever comes first), children should most definitely be coming to see a dentist to check that everything’s healthy and to spot any potential problems early on. At Butterfly Dental, we offer free check-ups for all children of our patients up until age 18, and a sticker for those who want one!