- Dental Care for Babies Center
- Parents' Guide To Crying And Colic Slideshow
- Parenting and Healthy Eating Slideshow Pictures
- Parenting - Fitness and Exercise Slideshow Pictures
- Find a local Doctor in your town
Baby teeth are important because they allow an infant to eat a good diet,
allow for proper jaw growth, give the face its form and appearance, assist in
the formation of proper speech, and most important, act as "space
savers" for adult teeth. Tooth decay in babies can lead to pain, infection,
malnutrition, poor weight gain, and premature loss of
When to Start Caring for Your Baby's Teeth
It's a good idea to get in the habit of cleaning your baby's gums even before teeth emerge.
To clean your baby's mouth:
- Lay your baby in your lap with his or her head close to your chest.
- Gently, but firmly, rub a clean and damp piece of gauze or washcloth along both the upper and lower gums.
- Clean the gums at least two times a
day -- afterbreakfast and after the last feeding of the day. Even better -- cleanyour baby's gums after every feeding.
What Is Teething?
Teething refers to the time when baby teeth (also called deciduous teeth or primary teeth) appear. Generally, teething first occurs between 6 months and 24 months of age. While this process is uneventful in some children; for others, it causes quite a bit of discomfort and irritability.
Check out this tooth chart and learn when to expect your baby's teeth to appear.
What Are Symptoms of Teething?
- Increased irritability
- Placing objects or fingers in the mouth and biting down on them
- Increased saliva or drooling
- Loss of appetite or becoming choosy about foods
- Tender and swollen gums
- Rash on cheeks or redness in the area of the cheeks near the affected gums
- Ear pulling, which may be a sign of teething or possibly an ear infection (make an appointment to have your child seen by your doctor or pediatrician)
What Can I Do to Ease Teething Pain?
- Massage your child's gums with a clean finger or the back of a small cold spoon
- Allow your child to bite down on a chilled (but never frozen) teething ring. A frozen teething ring can damage the gums.
- Try an over-the-counter teething ointment to numb the gums. Ask your dentist or doctor for some product recommendations.
- Allow your child to suck on a cold, wet cloth
Teething biscuits or cookies and frozen bananas are not recommended. These objects promote tooth decay and may cause your child to choke.
What Should I Do if My Baby Was Born With Teeth?
Some infants are born with one or more teeth (called natal teeth) or may have teeth emerge within the first 30 days of life (called neonatal teeth).
These usually are either extra teeth or are remnants from neonatal development that do not need treatment. If they are, however, actual teeth, it's a good idea to maintain them. Your doctor, however, may recommend removing them if the teeth are loose and pose a danger of being inhaled by your baby. Early teeth may also interfere with feeding or irritate your baby's tongue.
Talk to your doctor to see what treatment is right for your baby.
Reviewed by the doctors at The Cleveland Clinic Department of Dentistry.
Reviewed by Jay H. Rosoff, DDS, on March 1, 2007
Edited by Charlotte E. Grayson Mathis, MD, on May 1, 2005
Portions of this page © The Cleveland Clinic 2000-2005
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top Dental Care for Babies Related Articles
Fever in Adults and ChildrenAlthough a fever technically is any body temperature above the normal of 98.6 F (37 C), in practice, a person is usually not considered to have a significant fever until the temperature is above 100.4 F (38 C). Fever is part of the body's own disease-fighting arsenal; rising body temperatures apparently are capable of killing off many disease-producing organisms.
Dental Health QuizTake the Dental Health Quiz to test your IQ of oral hygiene, cavities, and common tongue and gum diseases. This quiz covers healthy mouths and teeth from brushing to flossing and everything in between check-ups!
DiarrheaDiarrhea is a change is the frequency and looseness of bowel movements. Symptoms associated with diarrhea are cramping, abdominal pain, and the sensation of rectal urgency. Causes of diarrhea include viral, bacterial, or parasite infection, gastroenteritis, food poisoning, and drugs. Absorbents and anti-motility medications are used to treat diarrhea.
Middle Ear Infection (Otitis Media)Middle ear infection (otitis media) is inflammation of the middle ear. There are two forms of this type of ear infection, acute and chronic. Acute otitis media is generally short in duration, and chronic otitis media generally lasts several weeks. Babies, toddlers, and children with a middle ear infection may be irritable, pull and tug at their ears, and experience numerous other symptoms and signs. Treatment depends upon the type of ear infection.
Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea is an uneasiness of the stomach that often precedes vomiting. Nausea and vomiting are not diseases, but they are symptoms of many conditions. There are numerous cases of nausea and vomiting. Some causes may not require medical treatment, for example, motion sickness, and other causes may require medical treatment by a doctor, for example, heart attack, lung infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia.
Some causes of nausea and vomiting may be life-threatening, for example, heart attack, abdominal obstruction, and cancers.
Treatment of nausea and vomiting depends upon the cause.
Oral Health Problems in ChildrenOral health problems in children include thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, lip sucking, tooth decay, and early tooth loss. Get tips on how to prevent these problems in your child.
Over-the-Counter ProductsOTC drugs are available without a prescription, simply "over the counter." Find an easy-to-follow format to help you understand which products may work better for specific conditions and how to choose the products that are most appropriate.
Skin RashThe word "rash" means an outbreak of red bumps on the body. The way people use this term, "a rash" can refer to many different skin conditions. The most common of these are scaly patches of skin and red, itchy bumps or patches all over the place.
Teeth PictureThe teeth are the hardest substances in the human body. See a picture of the Teeth and learn more about the health topic.
ToothacheA toothache is pain on or around a tooth. It may have a variety of causes, including a cavity, abscess, or even sinusitis. Toothache symptoms include pain, headache, earache, bad taste in the mouth, and gum swelling. Dental X-rays and other tests performed by a dentist are used to diagnose the cause of a toothache. Toothache treatment depends on the underlying cause. Taking proper care of the teeth and gums can help prevent toothache.