Growing healthy smiles! Dr. Brandon Shamblin is a Board Certified pediatric dentist who provides specialized superior quality dental care for infants, children, teens, and those with special needs.
Even before teeth have erupted, oral care is important! Although your child’s teeth may not be visible, try to massage your child’s gums after feeding and before bed with gauze or an infant washcloth to wipe away residual film left over from milk/formulas.
Teeth normally begin to erupt around 6 months of age, but some children may get their first teeth as early as 4-5 months, or as late as 8-12 months. Every child is unique, and follows their own timeline!
It is important to begin bushing your child’s teeth twice a day, with a toothpaste. Children who are still breastfeeding/drinking from the bottle should have their teeth brushed after feeding. A film of milk or juice left on the teeth can contribute to early childhood decay. Bottles/sippy cups should not be taken to bed unless they are filled with water. Proper care during these years can lead to healthy teeth later on!
Children should be encouraged to begin brushing on their own, but still need parental assistance. Those children who are able to spit out their toothpaste can have a pea sized amount placed on their toothbrush. Remember, only parents should be dispensing toothpaste. Spin-brushes can be very helpful at this age. Children should be weaned from pacifiers by this age, and it is important to begin to break any “thumb-sucking” habits. Some children may lose their first tooth around age 5-6. Healthy snacking should be encouraged. Fresh fruit, string cheese, fresh vegetables and nuts are healthy snacks. Sticky foods such as fruit snacks, fruit leather and other sweets or crackers should be given on a limited basis, and only given with a meal if possible.
Some children may lose their first tooth at age 5-6, while some others may not lose their first tooth until age 7. It is important to remember that each child is different, and everyone may not follow the exact same pattern. Children become much more active, and those children who participate in sports should be encouraged to wear mouth-guards. Brushing can sometimes become “rushed” or skipped in this age group, so it is important to still monitor your child’s brushing routine.