How to care for your baby and toddler’s teeth

baby teeth care

Your child’s first teeth are commonly known as ‘baby teeth’ or ‘milk teeth’ and usually start to appear between the ages of 6 to 12 months.

Baby teeth help your child learn to chew and speak. They also act as a placeholder for their adult teeth.

Most children have a full set of baby teeth by the age of 3 and don’t start losing them until they reach 5 or 6 — so they have to last a while.

It’s important to keep your child’s baby teeth in good condition. If they become decayed, it could lead to gum disease, which could affect the spacing of the adult teeth.

When should I start brushing my baby’s teeth?

You should start brushing your baby’s teeth as soon as they start to come through.

Brush twice a day and establish this as part of your baby’s daily routine.

What kind of toothbrush should I use?

Choose a baby’s toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head. You can make sure it’s suitable for your child’s age by checking the toothbrush packaging.

You should aim to replace the toothbrush every three months, or when the bristles start to splay out.

Do I need to use a special toothpaste?

Yes. Look for a children’s fluoride toothpaste with no less than 1,000ppm of fluoride. You can check the fluoride content on the packaging.

Use a tiny smear of toothpaste — no bigger than a grain of rice.

How should I brush my baby’s teeth?

  1. Rest your baby against your body and support their chin in your hand
  2. Use the toothbrush to clean the teeth, using a gentle, circular motion
  3. Remember to clean all of the exposed surfaces and gently brush along the gum line
  4. After brushing, rinse the brush with tap water
  5. Store the brush upright to air dry and keep your family’s brush heads from touching each other so germs are not transferred.

How do I brush my toddler’s teeth?

The above advice can be used for babies and toddlers up to three years.

As soon as they’re old enough, encourage your child to spit after brushing and don’t allow them to eat toothpaste from the tube.

At the age of 3, most children are old enough to start brushing their own teeth, with your supervision. The NHS recommends that you continue helping them to brush their teeth until they’re around 7 and can do it by themselves.

What else can I do to care for my child’s teeth?

Sugar is a leading cause of tooth decay, so it’s a good idea to limit the amount of sugar in your child’s diet.

Check the labels on the products you buy and avoid foods and drinks with added sugar.

Further questions?

If you still have questions about caring for your baby or toddler’s teeth, Dr Saigal will be happy to answer them for you.