Dental Care for Babies 6-14 Months Old
Teeth! During this time, the 8 front teeth (4 upper and 4 lower) will emerge. The first tooth may show as early as 4 months, typically shows between 6 – 10 months, and may not show until 14 months. However, by now you have been watching the little bulges develop under the gums, so if they are late, you can relax and wait.
These teeth are pretty easy to wipe clean with a washcloth, towel, gauze or something similar. A toothbrush is OK too! There is a very effective toothbrush sleeve that slips on your finger and can be incorporated into your mouth massage. Children usually like this.
The most common issue that results in cavities starting on these teeth is caused by food / milk / formula trapping in the curved indent of the backside of the upper front teeth. The curve of the teeth and the slight bulge of the gums behind create a significant tiny pocket where bacteria and food collect. Cleaning efforts should include a distinct effort to clean this area. A sideways rubbing of the cloth or brush is typically most effective. This is one of the prime areas your Pediatric Dentist or RDA (Registered Dental Assistant) will check at your child’s first well baby dental exam at age 1.
That curve behind the upper teeth is also the place where milk or formula will collect when the child goes to sleep and the protective saliva flow slows down. If your child is falling asleep with a bottle of nutrition in her/his mouth and teeth are present, it is critically important to wipe or brush these teeth clean so that there is no food or liquid trapped in that curved pocket behind the teeth, causing a cavity. Ideally, any container in bed should have only WATER!
Cavities behind the upper front teeth can grow large enough to penetrate the nerve of the tooth and cause an abscess even though you cannot see the cavity from the front.
Your child should have milk, formula or water in the bottle only. DO NOT start your child on juice in bottles, sippy cups or anything else. If your pediatrician is treating a medical problem and prescribes juice for medical reasons, OK. Otherwise, there is no place for juice in a child’s nutritional balance. The medical and dental risks of juice and other sweetened beverages in a child’s diet are too great.