About Baby Teeth
Healthy baby teeth are important. They help children eat well and speak clearly and allow adult teeth to grow in properly. Some baby teeth fall out when your child is six to eight years old, but others remain until they are 11 to 13.
All 20 baby teeth usually come in by the time your child is three years old. Tooth eruption varies from child to child. Most children start to get teeth around six months, but it is not unusual for teeth to begin appearing as early as three months or as late as one year. As with all aspects of child development, there is a lot of variation among children.
Here is when you might see your child’s teeth come in:
- Six months – first incisors (front teeth)
- Seven months – second incisors
- 12 months – first molars
- 18 months – canines (eye teeth)
- Two to three years – second molars
Visit the British Columbia Ministry of Health website for a diagram of tooth eruption.
Teething is the process of tooth eruption and it can cause pain, fussiness and drooling. If your child is more upset or bad tempered than usual, is wanting to chew on objects or has trouble sleeping, they may be teething.
To help ease the pain, many babies like to chew on cold clean face clothes or teething rings. You can also rub your child’s gums gently with a clean finger. Do not give your child teething cookies as most contain starch and sugar which promotes tooth decay.
Teething does not usually cause a fever or diaper rash. If your child has a fever, visit your doctor.
Daily dental care
Start brushing your baby’s teeth twice a day as soon as their first tooth starts to come in. Use a soft baby toothbrush with just a tiny dab of fluoridated toothpaste. You will need to continue brushing their teeth for them during their infant and toddler years, and then with them until they are about eight. Watch the video.
What causes tooth decay?
Tooth decay occurs when bacteria in the mouth use carbohydrates (sugars and starches) found in certain foods to make acid. This acid eats away at tooth enamel, causing pitted areas or holes. Young children are more at risk for cavities than adults because the enamel or outer surface of baby teeth is thinner than adult teeth.
How to prevent decay
The easiest way to keep your baby’s teeth healthy is to keep them clean. You can do this by brushing them with fluoride toothpaste twice a day, and especially after their last feeding. Visit our Oral Health Tips section for more information. Parents should also look after their own teeth and seek regular dental care!