Babies and their first teeth

Babies

Check out the new Australian Dental Association web site with information and downloads about baby teeth - or better still come in and ask us!
www.babyteeth.com.au

Teething
When should I start to clean my babies teeth?
What age should I take my child to the dentist?

Thumb sucking and comforters (dummies)
Nursing caries

Babies are very important and very precious. Primary teeth (or baby teeth) are important because they guide the second teeth into place.

Teething
Baby's teeth usually start to break through the gums from 4 months onwards. Don't be too concerned if your baby's teeth are "early" or "late" coming through. Teething babies are often irritable with sore or tender gums. They also appear more susceptible to infections during teething. You may find them pulling at their ears - which may just be a sign of teething - or may be an ear infection. You'll need your doctor to check out the problem.
Hints for surviving teething:

  • Try a clean cold teething ring to help soothe the baby.
  • Use a non-aspirin teething gel to provide relief - but only use the quantities recommended.
  • try massaging the gums with a clean finger (be careful!)
  • Other parents have survived!! Seek help - no rewards for being a martyr parent

Baby teeth eruption times: Very approximate
Upper and lower front 4 teeth - 6 to 16 months
Upper and lower canine teeth - 16 to 23 months
Upper and lower molar teeth - 1year to 3 years

When should I start to clean my babies teeth?
As soon as teeth appear you should start cleaning them with either a clean cloth or a baby tooth brush. Children's toothpaste has less fluoride and infants should have no, or very very little toothpaste, on their brush.

What age should I take my child to the dentist?
Your child should attend the dentist as part of the family dental visit so it becomes a normal routine. Speak to your dentist about the most appropriate timing for children's visits.

Thumb sucking and comforters (dummies)
Sucking is a natural reflex for a baby. Thumb and finger sucking is a common habit for infants and small children. If you decide to use a dummy with your child remember:

  • Don't coat the comforter(dummy) with any sweet substance.
  • Check the comforter(dummy) regularly for wear.
  • Establish good hygiene practices for comforter(dummy) use.

The way your child sucks their thumb or fingers, and for how long, is important in determining whether these habits will affect your child's teeth. It's now felt that it's preferable to stop these habits well before the permanent teeth appear. Your dentist can advise you on methods of stopping these habits and whether your child's teeth will be effected by thumb or finger sucking. Early intervention may save you from extensive orthodontic correction later in life.
Example:
baby teeth Lachlan has caused a gap between his teeth, called an openbite.This was caused by fairly constant use of the dummy at night. See how the back teeth meet (sorry the gloves are in the way a bit) and the front teeth are apart. Lachlan has his teeth closed as tightly. Lachlan decided to give up using the dummy. Run your mouse over the picture to see the improvement 6 months later.

Nursing caries
First teeth can develop decay if they're exposed to any liquid containing sugars (EVEN MILK!) for long periods of time. This is most frequently seen when a baby falls asleep with a bottle and the bottle isn't subsequently removed.
BEWARE: Brown spots or teeth that appear to grow malformed. See your dentist or Infant Welfare nurse for advice.

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