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We have all heard of the “terrible twos” – which is supposed to be when teething begins. But, as many new parents discover, your baby’s first teeth come in much earlier than the age of two years old – and teething lasts longer than one year.

This can leave many parents with dental questions. When should their baby go to his or her first dental appointment? How can they keep their baby’s mouth and teeth clean when baby just have a few milk teeth? These are important questions to ask!

While we are going to answer several of the common questions new parents have about their baby’s teeth – we also encourage you to shoot us an email or come in and talk to Dr. Krause about any concerns you are having. We are here to help you and your family with your excellent dental health!

Milk Teeth, Baby Teeth, and Molars – Oh My!

Teething comes in stages – and each stage may start at a slightly different age for all children. But, here’s a quick breakdown, so you know what to do each step of the way:

6-8 months: Your baby’s first teeth will usually come through the gums at this point. Even though your baby can’t communicate, he or she will warn you that teeth are about to emerge by wanting to chew on things (this helps with pain relief) and increased levels of drooling.

Now, before your baby’s teeth come in, you can clean out his or her mouth with a warm, wet washcloth, or a rubber thumb cover that stimulates the gums. As your baby’s teeth come in, you can follow these simple do’s and don’ts:

Do: Keep new teeth clean with a toothbrush and smear of child-safe toothpaste. If you’re worried that your infant is too young for toothpaste, you can brush their teeth or tooth with no toothpaste until they get a little older.

Don’t: Leave your baby with a bottle for a long period of time.  

Do: Clean your baby’s teeth after feedings.

Don’t: Share utensils, bottles, or pacifiers between children. Oral bacteria is communicable.

10-16 months: Molars start to show up. This can be a tougher period for your baby – it’s when the teething really begins. There are many options for easing teething, from allowing your baby to chew on some hard foods (as long as they aren’t a choking hazard) to giving your child hard or cold things to chew on. Both pressure and cold can help ease pain caused by teething. There are also natural and over-the-counter pain remedies that are safe for babies. Ask your pediatrician for more information on this option.

It’s also important to get your baby’s first dental appointment scheduled at this time. The rule of thumb is that your child should see the dentist by his or her first birthday.

16-22 months: The canine teeth will erupt – which is another uncomfortable moment for your baby. Because your baby will have had his or her first dental appointment, you probably will have some great, personalized advice. However, the general rule of thumb is to keep doing what you’ve been doing above: helping your baby get through any teething pain, keep up on the brushing, and monitor your baby’s teeth for any brown/black spots that might indicate decay.

25-33 months: This is when the largest molars come in  – and is the traditional “terrible twos” and can be the most uncomfortable period for your baby. Often, parents start to brush their child’s teeth with a little more toothpaste at this point. Additionally, after the majority of your young one’s teeth have come in, you can wean them off of thumb sucking or pacifiers if needed.

While teething can be complicated as your child finds different things which comfort him or her – keeping your baby and toddler’s mouths clean is not. If you are concerned that you are doing something wrong with your baby’s dental care – you can always schedule an appointment earlier than the one year mark. It’s never too early to care for your child’s oral health!