Tips for new parents about baby teeth

A common question from new parents is in regards to the timing of the first dental visit. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends this initial visit to be by the first birthday. Before being alarmed at this, it’s important to consider the logic behind this recommendation. The purpose is two fold…primarily to make sure that parents/care takers are taking the necessary steps to protect the erupting baby teeth. Making sure the teeth that are new to the mouth are being cleaned with a soft brush, cotton, gauze or something similar is important. Removal of daily plaque in addition to minimizing the amount of time juices, milks and any foods come in contact with the teeth is crucial to practically eliminating the possibility of dental decay(cavities). Plain water can touch the teeth continuously without any negative softening effects. Since babies commonly use sippy cups it’s important to never put a child to bed with a sippy cup containing anything but water. Milk, juices and other drinks outside of water should ideally be limited to regular meal times only. Yes, the same principles that help adult teeth stay strong and “cavity free” apply to baby teeth. Actually, they apply even more so as the outer protective layer of a baby tooth is about half the thickness of the adult tooth so damage can occur much more rapidly.

The second reason for a baby to visit the dentist prior to age one is simply to start building a positive experience. A quick visit where a child sees the office and maybe gets a toy or two hopefully starts the lifetime dental experience on a happy note. All too often we sadly see adult patients that are truly terrified of the dentist. Actually, hardly a week passes that I don’t here from a patient that “it’s nothing personal but I hate dentists.” Thankfully most dentists have thick skin and don’t take it personally but there has to be a deep rooted reason for this common experience. The reality is that many people have bad experiences early on in life with dental visits and most of the time these memories stick with them for a lifetime. Most dental experiences are truly comfortable and easily tolerated however it’s hard to convince someone of this if they have a past memory of a painful and/or negative experience.

Another common question when it comes to new parents is about the timing of the baby teeth breaking into the mouth. There is a broad range that is considered quite normal so the following timing is only to be used as a loose guide. There are 20 baby teeth…10 on top and 10 on the bottom. Usually the bottom two middle teeth are the first to come in at 6 months of age. The last of the baby teeth are the back ones…2nd molars and they are usually in by about 30 months of age. For a more complete look at the range for both baby teeth coming in and being lost and for the adult teeth breaking in please go to the link below. It is provided by the American Dental Association. If you have any specific questions regarding your child or yourself don’t hesitate to call the office at 757-961-4300 or email me directly at