Archived: What to Know about Your Child’s Teeth

There are so many exciting milestones in your child’s life and the first tooth coming in, the first tooth coming out and permanent adult teeth coming in, are for sure included. This is so exciting not only for parents but children as well. But then what? How do you care for these teeth? How do you comfort your child in pain? Caring for your child and child’s teeth is so important.

When does a child’s first tooth come in?

Typically around 6 months and the lower teeth come in first but this can widely vary. Sometimes children in the second year of life still don’t have a tooth! When your child is teething, if they seem uncomfortable, cool teething rings I find work best.

When do I go to the dentist?

You should schedule the dentist visit when the first tooth erupts or by your child’s first birthday. Thereafter you will see the pediatric dentist every 6 months. Not only will they do a check up on your child’s teeth, but also they can show you how you should be cleaning and caring for your child’s teeth. Even before teeth come in, they can assist in showing how to clean your child’s gums. Your pediatrician along with your dentist can also ensure you are using the appropriate amount of toothpaste and your child is getting the appropriate amount of fluoride through water. One important reminder is children will need adult assistance, or supervision brushing their teeth, even up until around ages of 7-8 years of age. Toothbrushes should be replaced every few months, especially when the younger child may bite it and make the bristles worn at the edges. For those busy moms that lose track of the weeks, some toothbrushes actually have bristles that change color when it is ready to be changed. It is also important to avoid milk or a bottle before bed and avoid falling asleep with the bottle. If your child is unable to brush after, rinse or wipe the teeth with water. Brushing twice a day and keeping your child’s teeth healthy is so important. As hard as it may be, it is one battle worth fighting for with your kids.

Why? The baby teeth just fall out.

Correct, but although they will fall out they are so important for several reasons. They keep the place where the permanent adult teeth will grow. If baby teeth fall out too early, the other teeth can move in that space and later crowd the adult teeth. They help with speech along with eating and chewing their food. Also, the good healthy dietary habits that your children develop early in life they will have a lifetime.

When does the first baby tooth fall out?

This is another milestone! This can vary but typically starting between the age of 6 to 7 years, but even as young as 4. The earlier the baby teeth came in the earlier they may lose it. Some kids are excited while others can be scared or nervous. Comfort your child and ensure them they will be ok and tell them how exciting this is they are growing up!

What about the rest of the teeth?

Your child has 20 baby teeth so it can take even into the teen years to lose your teeth and get all of your permanent teeth. It is important to continue to care for all of your teeth, permanent or baby teeth the same way.

Any tips for the loose tooth and helping the nervous child or the child in pain?

Your child will probably let you know when they feel a loose tooth. They will want to wiggle it and that is OK. You should let them do it themselves, not have someone else. Just be sure your child has washed clean hands. If they are experiencing pain, ice on the outside of the mouth or an ice pop can help. If the pain seems to be really troublesome, a pain medicine like acetaminophen can help. Continue to support your child and to be there for them. Keep telling them about this exciting milestone. Start to talk about the tooth fairy and what they will do with the tooth. This distraction away from the pain can actually really help too. Do not force a tooth out nor let an adult yank it out. It can actually cause some root damage if the tooth wasn’t ready to come out. Once the tooth does fall out, most children feel better. If there is pain after where the tooth was after it does fall it, have your child stick to softer foods. This will improve pretty quickly.

Any last tips on the topic?

Good habits start early. As mentioned previously, the tooth brushing battle you may have with your kids is one worth fighting for! The earlier they learn the importance of good dietary and teeth brushing habits, the easier it will be for them to stick with it. Encourage the brushing, the good diet and the dentist visits. Our teeth are so important and this guidance early on, can give your child a lifetime of healthy teeth.

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Alison Mitzner, M.D. is a board certified pediatrician. She received her medical degree from the State University of New York Health Science Center at Syracuse. After completing her pediatric residency at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset NY, she practiced general pediatrics for five years in a private practice in Manhattan, NY. During her years practicing, she was also an attending pediatrician at multiple New York City teaching hospitals where she admitted and examined newborns and pediatric patients. Additionally she supervised and taught hospital residents and medical students in various aspects of clinical and academic medicine. Alison has since moved into the pharmaceutical industry. She has had experience in the industry with leading safety teams and physicians and currently mentors many physicians globally.
Alison enjoys sharing her knowledge and experiences as a pediatrician (and mom) with other moms and dads in addition to supporting moms-to-be. She has contributed to various online websites and blogs. She also has an interest for creating healthier lifestyles and safer environments for pregnant women and children. Her outside interests include working out, acting, piano, guitar, dance, and being a mom!

You can find Alison at and follow on Instagram @alisonmitznermd

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