Published January 30, 2008 by
Tooth buds for your baby’s first teeth begin to form at about six weeks of fetal life.Between the fourth and fifth months of fetal life, some tooth buds become evident.By about the seventh month of fetal life, the tooth buds for all of your baby’s primary [deciduous] teeth are formed.At birth, the crowns-the portions of the teeth visible above the gums-of your baby’s front are already formed and contain most of their enamel covering.The crowns for some of the other primary teeth are partially formed, and the tooth buds for some of the permanent molars are forming.By the time your child is three years old, the crowns of some permanent teeth will be clearly fairly well formed, and the tooth buds for the last molars will have formed.
As early as three months of age, your baby may begin teething.Teething is marked by drooling, fretting, and chewing on things in an attempt to reduce the discomfort of sore, swollen gums.Some babies will exhibit these symptoms for up to four months before the first tooth finally erupts.If your baby seems uncomfortable, you can help reduce the pain and swelling in her gums by giving her firm, smooth, cool, unbreakable objects to chew.Massaging the inflamed gums with a clean fingertip may also be helpful.Medications to numb painful gums are also available.
Don’t be alarmed if your baby seems less interested in the breast or the bottle while teething; sucking increases the blood flow and hence the swelling and pain of the gums.If she’s old enough, you might try offering her fluids from a cup.
Your baby’s first tooth should appear when she is four to eight months old.It is not unusual for a child to be ten or more months old before the first tooth appears, though, and occasionally a baby is born with one or more teeth already erupted.Although most babies will have cut six to eight teeth by their first birthday, some normal babies will have just two teeth or fewer.If your baby is approaching the age of one year and no teeth are evident [you may see the outlines of teeth before they erupt], you should talk to your baby’s doctor about having a dental examination.
Even though all of your baby’s teeth may have erupted by one and a half to two years of age, you will have to exercise care in the foods that you give her.A child’s chewing ability is usually not fully developed until about the age of four years.Children younger than this should not be given such foods as popcorn, nuts [especially peanuts], raw vegetables such as carrots, whole grapes, hotdogs, round candies, or many other items that you might find in snack baskets.If these and similar food items are not properly chewed, they may lodge in a small child’s windpipe and cut off the air supply.
Because a baby’s teeth begin to form so early in fetal life, what the mother ate, or did not eat during pregnancy can have an effect on the development of the baby’s teeth.However, the nutritional needs of the teeth and their supporting bones and muscles are easily met by a well balanced diet; an ample supply of calcium is essential.After birth, the diet recommended by your baby’s doctor will contain the proper nutrients for baby’s healthy growth and development, including healthy teeth formation.