First teeth usually come through from six months and continue until all 20 primary (milk teeth) are through at around age two and a half. Second teeth will come through from age six onwards.
Some teeth come through almost unnoticed but most babies will feel some discomfort, even pain, as the tooth breaks through the gums. You may find that they dribble more than usual, experience some general irritability and disturbed sleep, and perhaps gnaw or chew frantically on hard objects to obtain some relief. There is a full range of gels, medicines and teething rings available from your local pharmacy. You could also try the more natural solutions, like crunching or chewing cold food or bread (always stay nearby in case of choking).
As soon as teeth are through they are at risk of decay. This occurs when bacteria feed on carbohydrates, especially sugars, in the mouth to make acid and this attacks the surface enamel. Sugars are present in milk (both breast and formula) and many foods.
Avoid introducing babies and young children to sweet drinks and sweets for as long as possible. What they haven’t tasted, they won’t miss.
It is recommended that a baby should be introduced to drinking from a cup from six months, and should be discouraged from using a bottle from the age of one year. Do not allow your baby to fall asleep with a bottle and do not use bottles or beakers as comforters since this increases the time to which teeth are exposed to sugars.
In babies, sucking a finger, thumb or dummy causes no long-term harm but if the habit persists to school age - when second teeth begin to come through - the shape of the mouth can be permanently altered. Encourage your child to give up gradually. Never dip a dummy or any type of comforter into syrups or fruit juices.
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