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Child Teeth Care - Tips

Healthy teeth are an important part of your child’s overall health and well-being. Helping your child develop good oral health begins at birth.

The first primary (or “baby”) tooth usually comes at about 6 months, but teeth might appear as early as 3 months or late as 12 months.

Every child is different, but most will have all 20 primary teeth by 3 years. At around 5 or 6 years, your child will start to lose their primary teeth to make room for their permanent teeth.

Tips for good oral health from birth to age 4

  • Wipe your baby’s gums with a soft, clean, damp cloth twice a day.

  • As soon as the first teeth appear, clean them at least once a day (usually at bedtime) with a soft bristle toothbrush designed for babies. Lay your baby on a flat surface or with their head cradled in your lap to brush their teeth.

  • Don’t leave your baby in bed with a bottle.

  • After 6 months:

    • Introduce a sippy cup.

    • Avoid juice, as it is unnecessary. If you do offer it, it should be less than 125 mL (4 oz) per day, in a cup rather than a bottle, and only as part of a meal or snack.

    • If a bottle is needed at naptime, offer water rather than milk or juice as these other beverages contain sugar.

    • If you breastfeed before naptime or bedtime, be sure to clean your child’s teeth before they go to sleep.

  • Never sweeten a soother.

  • Do not put a soother or bottle nipple in your own mouth for any reason. Bacteria (including those that cause tooth decay), viruses and yeast infections can be passed between you and your child this way.

  • Infants should see a dental professional (dentist, dental therapist or hygienist) within 6 months of their first tooth coming out or no later than 12 months of age.

From 1 to 2 years

  • Try to take your child for a first dental visit by 12 months of age.

  • Brush your child’s teeth daily. Your dental professional may suggest you start using a small amount (the size of a grain of rice) of fluoride toothpaste.

  • Check for signs of early childhood tooth decay once a month. Lift your child’s upper lip and look for chalky-white or brown spots on the teeth or along the gum line. If you see any, take your child to a dental professional as soon as possible.

  • Switch to a regular cup for all drinks between 12 and 15 months.

  • Limit soother use to nap and bedtime.

From 3 to 4 years old

  • Teach your child “2 for 2,” which means brushing twice a day for 2 minutes each time.

  • Start using fluoride toothpaste, the amount of a green pea, and teach your child to spit rather than swallow. Supervise your child while they brush their teeth.

  • Encourage your child to do some brushing, with you completing the job, making sure that all tooth surfaces have been cleaned.

For all ages

  • Wash your hands before and after brushing teeth.

  • Rinse toothbrushes thoroughly after brushing and make sure that each one can dry without touching other toothbrushes.

  • Replace toothbrushes every few months, when the bristles become flattened.

  • Replace toothbrushes after getting over a cold or flu.

  • Offer water between meals. Avoid offering candy, dried fruit (including raisins) and sugared drinks or juices.

  • Try to take your child for regular dental visits (every 6 months, unless otherwise suggested by your dental health professional.

  • If your child continues to suck their thumb as permanent teeth begin to appear, talk to your doctor or dentist.

Foremost, remember that our teeth have such an important role to play in our lives. They help us chew and digest food, they help us to talk and speak clearly and they also give our face its shape. A smile also has other day-to-day benefits. It can give us greater confidence, as well as influence our social lives, careers and relationships.



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