Guest blogger Jennifer Vishnevsky writes for TopDentists.com, part of the Everyday Health portfolio, which also includes WhatToExpect.com, as well as a freelancer for other lifestyle media sites.
Seeing your baby’s first teeth can be exciting and nerve wracking. Before you know it, those little teeth may be accompanied by crying and fussing. Gums take a few years to be replaced by two rows of baby teeth. It’s still important to take good care of gums and then baby teeth, as they are the placeholders for adult teeth.
Without a healthy set of baby teeth, your child will have trouble chewing and speaking clearly. That's why caring for baby teeth and keeping them decay-free is so important.
Start taking care of your baby’s gums by gently wiping them down at least twice a day with a moistened washcloth or cause. This simple task will wash off bacteria. Once your child’s teeth start erupting, use a toothbrush with a soft head and small head. Start using a small amount of toothpaste around age 1. You should take your child to a first dental appointment by age 1. Your dentist will give you advice about teething and thumb sucking, among other things. Most dentists recommend waiting until age 2 to use fluoride toothpaste.
If you’ve heard of the phrase “the terrible two’s,” you’ve likely heard parents talk about teething. It can take two years before all of your child’s teeth emerge through the gums. Teething is uncomfortable and painful, so take steps to relieve your child’s discomfort. Teething rings are very popular for parents. Let your baby chew on a clean, cool teething ring or a cold washcloth. Also, try rubbing your baby’s gums with a clean finger. If your child seems to be in a lot of pain, some pediatricians recommend giving your baby Tylenol occasionally to relieve pain.
As your child’s teeth erupt, start thinking about how you can prevent cavities. Avoid giving your child any sugary drinks, like juice and soda. Even excess breast milk can cause problems with tooth decay. Bacteria feeds on the sugar from sweet drinks and produces acid, which attacks your baby’s teeth. If you send your baby to bed or naps with a bottle or sippy cup, fill it with water only. Also avoid putting anything sweet on your baby's pacifier.
Children start losing their baby teeth around the age of six. The last baby teeth generally fall out by age 12 or 13. You’ll notice that baby teeth tend to fall out in the order that they erupted. The bottom two front teeth are generally the first to fall out, followed by the top front two teeth. Check with your child’s dentist about losing baby teeth. Some baby teeth may be resistant to falling out or being pulled.
The most important thing to remember about losing baby teeth is that you have the perfect opportunity to emphasize oral care. Make brushing teeth a fun activity with character toothbrushes and toothpastes. Happy child equals happy smile!