Friday, December 23, 2011

A Baby's First Teeth

Are my two front (bottom) teeth! That's right!  Q-ball's bottom front teeth emerged simultaneously about 10 days ago.  So, I wanted to share some fun or interesting facts about infants' teeth.  Also, it's the holidays, so I'm taking a little bit of a break with this Science Friday post. :) 

  • The technical term for baby teeth is deciduous teeth (just like the trees that loose their leaves.)
  • Streptococcus sanguis (a.k.a. the bacteria that causes dental plaque and, sometimes cavities)  is only found in the human mouth after the first teeth appear.  In the infants studied, the bacteria was found in 100% of infants by 3 months after their first teeth appeared. 
  • The vast majortiy of infants get the bacteria from their mamas.  This is especially true for daughters (88%  of girls share the identical bacterium as their mamas, while 53% of boys do.)  There is no evidence that infants receive the bacterium from their fathers.
  • Some babies are born with teeth (these are called natal teeth), while others develop teeth within the first month of life (called neonatal.)  Natal and neonatal teeth are more common in babies with cleft palate or other syndromes that are present at birth.  But, the teeth are not always a cause for alarm.  It is not necessary to remove natal or neonatal teeth, but they may be removed if they disrupt feedings. 
  • Low-birth weight babies appear to have increased problems with their baby teeth, to include being more porous and containing more "subsurface lesions."
  • There is no evidence that breastfeeding causes an increase in cavities, and some studies have found that breast milk can help prevent cavities.  But, nighttime snacking can be a cause of cavities.
No, this isn't Q-ball- my teeth picture attempts were a fail!
Q-ball only exhibited minor pain with the emergence of these first two teeth.  However, I suspect that her one or both of her top teeth are now coming in, and she does appear to be exhibiting some discomfort.  I am currently giving her a wet washcloth that has been frozen for comfort, but I have also been debating purchasing a baltic amber necklace.  However, I can't find any hard research to support their pain relief claim. But, it seems lots of mothers have had success.

Have you used a baltic amber necklace? Do you think they work?  Do you have any other recommendations for teething pain?

Carlsson, J., Grahnén, H., Jonsson, G., & Wikner S. (1970). Establishment of Streptococcus sanguis in the mouths of infants. Archives of oral biology, 15(12). Retrieved from
Caufield, P.W. & Yi, L. (1995). The fidelity of initial acquisition of mutans Streptococci by infants from their mothers. Journal of Dental Research, 74(2). Retrieved from
Le Leche League International. (2010). The womanly art of breastfeeding. Ballantine Books: NY.
Noren, J. (1983).  Enamel structure in deciduous teeth from low-birth-weight infants. Acta Odontologica Scandinavica. Retrieved from


  1. Interesting information, as usual! This mom had some good sources for info on teething necklaces (in the comments), but they were all print sources so I was unable to check them out myself: We have used an amber necklace, and course it's hard to say for sure that it's working, since I have no idea what the teething experience would have been without it, but Annabelle has had a fairly easy time and all her teeth, save for the last set of molars, are in.

    We also used frozen fruit (strawberries, peach slices, etc) to gnaw on for soothing, and when it got especially rough I mixed a couple of drops of clove oil with olive oil and massaged that onto her gums. Clove oil is a great natural numbing agent, but needs to be diluted.

  2. Thanks for the resources! I enjoy finding new blogs, and I have never heard about the powers of clove oil- it's certainly something I'll look into!


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