13 Jul # 8: Baby Teeth & Teething
Baby Teeth & Teething
Fun fact #1 – you can have all of the experience in the world and still be terrified when you baby starts teething, especially when you see those first little baby teeth break through … Yikes!
My name is Leonie and I am the Practice Manager and Owner of Diamond Dental in Wantirna South, Victoria.
Let me explain …
When I’m not running a busy practice and looking after patients, I’m a busy mum to a one year old gorgeous little boy. I have worked in dentistry for over 17 years, yet nothing prepared me for the baby teeth phase. From a parental perspective, babies and their teeth seemed like a foreign topic! Honestly, I thought there couldn’t be much more to learn after seeing hundreds of other people’s kids come to the clinic for various reasons.
With that in mind I have compiled a list of questions from my personal experience (and motherly advice), given to me from the talented dentists I work with. I hope it helps you all in some way.
Question 1. My baby is six months old and isn’t showing signs of teething….
All babies are different and will grow their teeth at different ages. In my mother’s group alone, by the time the babies were a year old, one child still had no teeth. Four babies had between 3-8 teeth and another was already growing her molars (she got her first tooth at 3 months, early bloomer)!
My advice is try not to worry about the rate at which your baby’s teeth grow. There isn’t anything you can do to make them grow quicker or slower, so take my advice and relax, you earned it!
Question 2. What are the signs of teething and is there anything I can do to help….?
I can tell you that my son grows teeth badly! We have sleepless nights, lots of drool, fevers, nappy rash, constant crying, bulging gums … the works. Some babies experience no symptoms at all. But then one day a tooth appears (the lucky ones!) while on average most babies fall somewhere in between.
Some of the tricks we found that helped was anything cold that he could rub on his gums. For example, a cold wet face washer for him to chew on. A baby teething ring from Target/Kmart (its filled with water and you can pop it in the fridge) worked great. I also found an all-natural product called ‘Weleda Baby Teething Powder’ made of chamomile that you can massage into their gums. My local pharmacist was a wealth of information too!!
Question 3. When should I start cleaning my baby’s teeth?
The answer is as soon as they get them. BUT, try not to be too forceful and try not to get stressed or upset if your baby won’t let you brush their baby teeth. My son absolutely hates it (like most kids) when I come at him with a toothbrush, and understandably so. His mouth hurts from the new teeth coming in and a brush is a completely new sensation for him to experience.
I want my son to have a positive association with tooth brushing so decided to incorporate tooth brushing into his nighttime bath routine. I gave him his own special toothbrush and let him play with it in the bath with the rest of his toys. Once he became more familiar with the feel of it in his mouth (he chews on all of his toys!) I started putting a little bit of baby toothpaste on it. A quick go of doing a brush for as long as he would let me or until he wised up.
He is slowly becoming less reluctant and hopefully soon we can find him enjoying it before his baby teeth fall out. He maintains a diet of very little sugar and lots of water so I am not too worried at this point in time of him developing tooth decay, however again, all babies are different.
Professional baby teeth help…
Talk to your Maternal Child Health Nurse, GP or dentist if you are concerned. My MCHN suggested I use a face washer or gauze on my finger to rub his teeth clean. Sounded great in theory and might work well for other kids. I ended up with a very sore finger from my son constantly biting me, ouch!
The Australian Dental Association has more information on caring for your babies teeth. Go to: https://www.ada.org.au/Your-Dental-Health/Children-0-11/Babies
AND, if you have any questions about baby teeth and teething, chances are someone else is wondering the same thing. Send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org so I can ask the dentist and come back to you.
ALL in good dental health,