It has been a year of firsts. First smile. First food. First tooth. First steps and first words. Your little bundle of joy never ceases to amaze you with the changes from day-to-day.
Your child’s first tooth probably appeared when they were 6 – 9 months of age. However, don’t be alarmed if your child is toothless on their first birthday. Some children are well over one year of age when their first baby tooth erupts. The first teeth to erupt are usually the two lower middle teeth (central incisors) followed by the two upper central incisors. Next will be the lateral incisors, canines and first and second molars. Your baby will ultimately get 20 baby teeth by the time they are two to three years old.
Believe it or not, you should begin wiping your child’s gums even before they get their first tooth. You can use a soft washcloth or piece of gauze wet with warm water. When the first tooth appears, you can start to brush their teeth with a smear of ADA-approved kid-safe toothpaste. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a first visit to the dentist within six months of getting their first tooth, or around the time of their first birthday.
Proper oral hygiene, such as brushing your child’s teeth twice per day, translates to reduced risk for cavities, infections or other oral health problems. You can also protect your child’s teeth by only filling their bottle with formula, breast milk or water. Avoid giving your child fruit juices, soda and sugary drinks. Even milk can settle on the teeth and lead to baby tooth decay – known as “Baby Bottle Tooth Decay”. If you have to send your baby to bed or naps with a bottle or sippy cup, fill it with water only. Never put anything sweet on your baby’s pacifier.
At this age, your family dentist is the best source of information regarding your baby’s dental development. At age 7, the American Association of Orthodontists recommends a first visit to an orthodontist. Between now and then, enjoy all the “firsts” yet to come!