Teething is considered as one of the very first rituals of human beings. Though infants have no teeth yet, their teeth start to show when they are about six months old. In the first years of their life, all of their 20 baby teeth will push through the gums, and by age 3, most kids will have their full set of teeth. When a baby is about 6 months old, the four front teeth often push through the gums – though some children only have their first tooth when they are 12 to 14 months of age.
When their teeth begin to show, some babies become irritable, picky, and sleepless, drool more often, or lose their appetite. When babies are teething, they do not normally have diarrhea, fever or rashes. So, in case they are experiencing such symptoms and continue to be irritable and uneasy, consult your physician.
First Visit to the Dentist
Once the first tooth of your child appears, schedule a visit to the doctor. According to ADA, the first dental visit should take place within six months following the appearance of the first tooth, and not after the first birthday. Do not postpone it to the time they are about to start school or when there is a problem.
Teach your child to be comfortable with good dental habits. Usually, during the first visit, the dentist will just examine your child’s mouth to check the development of teeth, as well as make your child feel comfortable. To make dental visit more favorable:
- Schedule a daytime appointment so that the children are well rested and cooperative.
- Keep your concerns to yourself. Kids can easily sense your emotions, so give emphasis to the positive aspects.
- Never use a dental visit to punish/threat your child.
- Never use a dental visit as a bribe.
- Talk positively to your child about going to the dentist.
On your dental visit, expect the dentist to:
- Examine for oral problems or cavities;
- Reveal if there are any risks of developing tooth decay;
- Clean teeth and give tips for everyday care;
- Talk about teething, using a pacifier or thumb-sucking habits;
- Discuss necessary treatment and schedule the next appointment.
The mineral called fluoride naturally occurs in all sources of water, such as lakes, oceans and rivers. At times, it is also included in toothpaste, mouth rinse and a number of community tap water. Infants, as well as toddlers not getting enough fluoride may be more prone to tooth decay because fluoride protects the tooth enamel from it.
Fluoride also repairs weakened enamel. Since not all bottled water contains fluoride, children who regularly drink this or tap water without fluoride do not enjoy its benefits. If you in doubt whether or not your tap water contains fluoride, inquire from your local/state health department or water supplier.
It is quite common for infants and younger children to suck on their thumb, finger or pacifier. When a pacifier is dipped in sweet food like honey, sugar and sweetened juice, this can cause tooth decay.
Tooth decay can start as well when saliva with cavity-causing bacteria is passed on from a mother or caregiver to the baby. Also, when either of them puts a baby’s feeding spoon or pacifier in their mouth, the bacteria can be transmitted to the baby.