Teething is a difficult time for both parents and babies, but it's still a welcome change that accelerates the process of introducing solid foods. Yet it's easy to panic and wonder if something is seriously wrong with your child when they don't have a single tooth emerge during the usual window of between four and six months old. Know when baby teeth are officially considered late and what to do to ease your worry about your child's development.
Give It Time
While some babies start cutting a first tooth as early as four months old, the normal window for tooth eruption actually stretches all the way to 13 months. A first tooth isn't even considered late at all until a month after your child's first birthday. Most pediatricians and dentists agree you don't need an evaluation until up to 18 months, which is a much longer time than most parents assume. Waiting 18 months to see if your child will grow teeth on their own won't cause you to miss out on any important early treatment deadlines.
See a Dentist
Once the first 18 months have passed without a single sign of an emerging baby tooth, it's time to see a pediatric dentist. X-rays will determine exactly what's causing the teeth to linger under the surface or if some of them are missing altogether. Even if your child is lacking their baby teeth or will experience eruption issues with them, proper dental treatment can prevent those problems from affecting the permanent adult teeth. Waiting too long past 18 months to seek treatment could lead to permanent and irreversible dental effects.
Improve the Diet
A diet lacking in nutrients, especially Vitamin D, can cause a child's teeth to emerge slowly or not at all. Most treatments to encourage the teeth to emerge are only available from a doctor or dentist, but improving your child's diet is one thing you can do as a parent to encourage late teeth to finally pop up. Your child may need a multi-vitamin supplement or specific vitamin doses targeted by a nutritional test to finally start growing in their natural smile.
Prepare for Orthodontics
While the majority of children with late teeth eruption still develop healthy adult teeth later in life, there is a link between a greater need for orthodontic care and late emergence. Follow your dentist's advice on keeping your child's teeth on track to reduce what you'll spend on braces and other treatments later.