When a baby is born, he or she has all of their primary teeth below the gum line. All children are unique, but the process of teeth emerging and falling out generally begins at around six to 10 months and can continue until the age of 12. Here is all you need to know about your child’s teeth journey.
Most babies will get their first tooth between six and ten months of age (although some will get them sooner or later than this). The order the teeth emerge can vary, but typically the bottom front teeth are first to arrive. Baby teeth tend to emerge in pairs, and the bottom front teeth are most commonly followed by the top front ones. From the ages of around eight months to three years your baby will gain their full set of 20 milk teeth.
As soon as your baby’s first tooth pokes through it’s a good idea to begin a dental routine. For young babies, a finger brush is a great way to gently brush the tooth and gums, morning and night. The sooner you start, the more your baby will become accustomed to having their teeth brushed and eventually learn how to do it themselves. Toothbrushes should be very soft, moistened with water, and you should use no more than a rice-grain size of fluoride toothpaste to start.
How to cope if your baby doesn’t like having their teeth brushed
Not all babies like having their teeth cleaned and, if they are teething, the gums are probably sore and tender, which will make them more resistant. Just go very gently and take it slowly. Distraction is always good (with many things, not just tooth brushing!). Try singing to your baby or making silly faces to distract them from the job in hand. Your baby will also no doubt be curious about the toothbrush or finger brush, so allow them to hold it and examine it at their own pace. You may even find it naturally finds its way into their mouth!
A child’s milk teeth generally start to fall out from the age of five – although this can vary. Teeth fall out when the permanent teeth start to push up from beneath the gum line and destroy the anchoring roots of the milk teeth. It can take a couple of months for a tooth to fall out from the time it becomes wobbly, but it may happen quicker. Sometimes teeth drop out unexpectedly, while other times they are gently eased out by a child wobbling them with their finger or tongue. You shouldn’t try pulling out a wobbly tooth as this can cause pain and result in an infection if the tooth isn’t ready to come out.