Fern E. Cytryn, DDS, FAAPD

Fern E. Cytryn, DDS, FAAPD, with Pediatric & Adolescent Dentistry of Rockland in New City
and on staff at Nyack Hospital shares what you need to know about caring for your baby’s teeth.

Nyack, N.Y. January 30, 2014 - With so much happening in your baby’s first year, it’s easy to overlook the importance of good dental care. You should begin thinking about your baby’s teeth early, even before they come in. Starting oral health care when children are infants sets the foundation for a lifetime of healthy smiles.

Babies usually begin teething around six months of age. Baby teeth continue to come in until around age 24 months. The lower front teeth generally come in first, followed by the upper front teeth. The lower and upper side front teeth are the next to come in. Most children have all 20 baby teeth by age 3.

While babies are teething, it’s common for them to drool and have swollen, tender gums. Their sleep (and yours) may be interrupted. Children who are teething may run a slight temperature, become finicky eaters, or develop isolated episodes of diarrhea. To soothe your baby’s gums, try gently rubbing them with a cool wash cloth, or give your baby cool teething rings that you store in the refrigerator (not the freezer).                   

Tips for keeping your baby’s teeth clean:

  • During the first few days after birth, start wiping the gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth.

  • When teeth begin to appear, brush then gently using a child-size toothbrush and water.

  • Once your child can spit out, you can begin to brush their teeth twice a day with a pea- sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.

  • Avoid putting sugary beverages such as juice or soda in baby bottles. Have your baby finish their bedtime and naptime bottle before sleeping, to avoid baby bottle tooth decay, which can occur when a baby is put to bed with a bottle. And wipe their mouth and teeth with a soft moist wash cloth.

First Visit to the Dentist

You should bring your child to their first dental visit within six months after their first baby tooth emerges, or no later than their first birthday. During the first visit, the pediatric dentist will examine your child’s mouth and check growth and development. The dentist will tell you if your child is at risk of developing tooth decay; clean your child’s teeth and provide tips for good oral hygiene; and discuss teething, use of pacifiers, and finger or thumbsucking. The visit is an opportunity for you to ask questions about topics such as fluoride, diet, or injury prevention. Dental health is integral to your child’s overall good health. By keeping your child’s teeth clean and visiting the pediatric dentist on a regular basis, you will be taking important steps to ensure your child has strong, healthy teeth for years to come.

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Nyack Hospital is a 375-bed community acute care medical and surgical hospital located in Rockland County, NY. Founded in 1895, it is a member of the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System, an affiliate of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and has partnered with Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine providing clinical rotations to third-year medical students. Its mission is to provide competent, innovative and accessible emergency and acute care services to the residents of Rockland County and surrounding areas.