Baby teeth are important! Your child’s baby teeth are at risk for cavities as soon as they first appear—which is typically around the age of 6 months. Cavities that occur in the upper front teeth, sometimes including other teeth, in infants and toddlers is often referred to as Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (cavitites). In some cases, infants and toddlers experience cavities so severe that their teeth cannot be saved and need to be removed.
The good news is that cavities are preventable! Most children have a full set of 20 baby teeth by the time they are 3-years-old. As your child grows, their jaws also grow, making room for their permanent (adult) teeth.
Baby Teeth Eruption Chart
Nnewborns usually have no visible teeth, most baby teeth begin to appear generally about six months after birth. During the first few years of your child’s life, all 20 baby teeth will push through the gums and most children will have their full set of teeth by age 3. As their teeth erupt, some babies may become fussy, sleepless and irritable, lose their appetite or drool more than usual. Diarrhea, rashes and a fever can also be normal symptoms for a teething baby.
Infants and young children may suck on thumbs, other fingers or pacifiers. Pacifiers dipped in sugar, honey, juice or sweetened drinks, can lead to cavities. Cavities are caused by germs your baby gets from you. Clean pacifiers with warm soapy water, not your mouth. Don't share spoons or cups with your baby and don't share pacifiers or bottles with other babies.
As soon as your child’s first tooth appears, it’s time to schedule a dental visit. The ADA recommends that the first dental visit take place within six months after the first tooth appears. Don’t wait for them to start school or until there's an emergency.
Although the first visit is mainly for the dentist to examine your child’s mouth and to check growth and development, it’s also about your child being comfortable. To make the visit positive:
During this visit, you can expect the dentist to
Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in all water sources, including oceans, rivers and lakes. Fluoride is also added to some community tap water, toothpastes and mouth rinses. Infants and toddlers who do not receive an adequate amount of fluoride may be at an increased risk for cavities since fluoride helps make teeth more resistant to cavities. It also helps repair weakened teeth. Bottled water may not contain fluoride; therefore, children who regularly drink bottled water or unfluoridated tap water may be missing the benefits of fluoride. If you are not sure if your tap water has fluoride, contact your local or state health department or water supplier.
Discuss your child’s fluoride needs with your dentist or health care provider. They may recommend a fluoride supplement if you live in an area where the community water is not fluoridated.