Baby teeth, or “primary” teeth, are the first teeth that appear after a child is born. Some are born with teeth already visible, although this is uncommon. These teeth, despite naturally falling out after a few years, are very important for the healthy growth and development of a child’s mouth.
Baby teeth help guide adult teeth into position, and help shape the gum properly to allow for adult teeth to sit normally. When baby teeth fall out too soon from illness or decay, it can lead to problems later on.
From misaligned adult teeth to bite problems, taking care of your child’s first teeth can make a huge difference.
Before The First Tooth
Oral care starts before teeth appear. Your gums are just as important to your oral health as your teeth, even when you’re a baby. Cleaning a child’s gums before their teeth appear can be a great way to keep their mouths healthy, and establish cleaning habits early.
You won’t need brushes or toothpaste in the beginning. Instead, gently wipe the gums with a clean, damp face washer or gauze.
Like with the gums, gauze or a washer are all you’ll need to clean the first baby teeth. Wrap the gauze or washer around your finger, and gently wipe the teeth front and back.
Baby-size toothbrushes with soft bristles are available that you can try to introduce at this point.
NOTE: You won’t need toothpaste until your child is at least 18 months old. It is not advisable to give children under the age of 18 months toothpaste unless specified by your dentist.
Tips For Cleaning Baby Teeth
- Place the child in a comfortable position, one where they feel secure and you can see into their mouth.
- Cup your baby’s chin in your hands, with their head resting against your body.
- Clean the teeth using soft, circular motions.
- Lift their lips to brush the front and back of the teeth and at the gum line.
Baby Teeth And Diet
Cleaning teeth and gums is only half the battle — eating a proper diet that avoids promoting tooth decay is the other half.
- Sugary drinks should be kept to an absolute minimum.
- Put your baby to bed with a bottle of water, not juice. Juice has comparable quantities of sugar to most soft drinks.
- Avoid lollies, sweets, and starchy foods that can help promote oral bacterias.
When To Take Your Child To The Dentist
You can start to bring your child to the dentist at 6 months. We encourage parents to bring their children with them during one of their regular checks and cleans. The child won’t have any work done on them; they just get to sit in the chair and get familiarised with a dental environment. Establishing healthy, positive associations with the dentist early on is key to avoiding dental phobias and promoting taking care of your teeth later in life.
Your child’s first proper visit should take place at around 2 years of age, when most of their baby teeth have started appearing. This visit involves a simple check and clean, and some record keeping to start tracking the growth and health of your child’s teeth.