‘When do baby teeth fall out’ and ‘when to start brushing baby teeth’ are searched by thousands of new parents in the UK each month alone.
As many parents turn to ‘Dr Google’ to get their answers, dental experts are advising people to be vigilant. Searches on Reddit alone, for baby teeth queries, reveal lots of misleading information – and contrasting posts – on the subject of baby teeth.
UK Mums TV got the lowdown from dental professional at Kent Express, Chris Moffatt; who provided expert answers to all our baby teeth questions.
Chris trained as a dental nurse and worked in domiciliary practice before moving to Kent Express, suppliers to the dental industry. He now puts his dental expertise to good use as their senior marketing manager.
Our Top Baby Teeth FAQs – Answered By a Dental Expert
According to a new government survey, almost 11% of three-years-olds in England have experienced tooth decay.
Additionally, children with tooth decay had on average 3 teeth that were decayed, missing or filled (at age 3 most children have all 20 primary teeth).
We ask Chris the 10 most commonly asked questions, regarding baby teeth.
1. What age do baby teeth come through?
Baby teeth usually start to appear between 6 and 12 months of age. However, it’s different for every baby and many will begin teething earlier or later.
The first teeth to emerge are often the bottom central incisors and the last are the second molars.
2. When should I worry about my baby’s teeth not coming in?
When it comes to baby teeth, there can be delays. Genetic factors can cause teeth to come through later than the usual 6-12 months, which isn’t normally a cause for concern.
However, if you’re concerned, it’s best to see a dentist, so they can investigate the reason behind any delay.
3. What’s the difference between baby teeth and adult teeth?
There are three main differences between baby teeth and permanent teeth: colour, texture and size. Baby teeth are a strong white colour, whereas permanent teeth tend to be paler in colour.
In addition, baby teeth are soft and smooth, whereas permanent teeth have jagged edges, known as mamelons, to help them break through the gums.
Finally, baby teeth are smaller than permanent teeth, since the jaw is not yet large enough to accommodate bigger adult teeth.
4. When should you start brushing baby teeth?
You should start brushing your baby’s teeth as soon as their first tooth comes through, which is usually at around six months of age. Making sure their teeth are kept clean is essential for preventing decay.
Even if your baby only has one or two teeth, plaque can still begin to build up, so brushing is vital.
5. How often should you clean a baby’s teeth?
You should clean your baby’s teeth twice a day, just as you would with your own adult teeth. Brushing your baby’s teeth just before bed helps to make sure that no food or milk sits on their teeth overnight.
Using a smear of baby or children’s toothpaste, gently brush their teeth in small circular motions, making sure you cover each surface.
6. What if my baby won’t let me brush their teeth?
It can take a while for babies to get used to having their teeth brushed. If they’re refusing to let you clean their teeth, try making the experience a little more fun. Perhaps you could sing a song, play some music, buy novelty toothbrushes or let them watch you brush your teeth first – to reassure them that it doesn’t hurt.
It’s also important to give your baby lots of praise for every small step forward. Even if they only allow you to have a toothbrush in their mouth for a few seconds, this is a good start!
7. Is it normal for babies to grind their teeth?
Yes, it’s common for babies to grind their teeth whilst teething. Usually, this will stop once their milk teeth have come through, but if you’re concerned, it’s best to take your baby to the dentist for a check-up.
Your dentist will be able to assess if there are any underlying problems and will give you some peace of mind.
8. Are cavities in baby teeth common?
Unfortunately, cavities in baby teeth are a common occurrence. Just like with adult teeth, cavities are caused by a build-up of sugar, plague and acid. This is why it’s so important to begin caring for your baby’s teeth as soon as they start coming through.
One of the leading causes of cavities in baby teeth is drinking sugary liquids, especially before bed. If your baby drinks something other than water before bed, the residue will sit on their teeth overnight, unless they’re brushed.
9. When do baby teeth start to fall out?
Usually, children begin losing their baby teeth at the age of six, but this varies with each child. Baby teeth fall out gradually and often in the order in which they came through. This means that the lower central incisors, in most cases, are the first baby teeth to fall out.
10. What can you do with baby teeth when they fall out?
It’s entirely up to you whether you keep or discard your child’s baby teeth. Perhaps you’d like to keep them for sentimental reasons or maybe you’d rather let them go — the choice is yours.
If you do choose to keep the teeth, make sure you clean them thoroughly with water and soap to remove any bacteria.
Once they’re clean, you could keep the teeth in a memory box or add them to a milestone book!