Caring for baby teeth

When should you start cleaning your baby's teeth?  As soon as they have sprouted!  Cleaning your baby's new toothy pegs as soon as they have appeared not only gets them off to a flying dental hygiene start but it also helps set the routine of brushing their teeth twice a day.

When they are really tiny and before teeth have sprouted, you can just use a small clean, soft cloth and water to clean baby’s gums.  Soft baby toothbrushes are readily available at the supermarket and can be used with water once teeth have sprouted.  Once baby is 18 months old you can use a tiny smudge of baby toothpaste (low-fluoride) on their toothbrush.   

Healthy dental tips

  • Decay can affect all of us; it depends on what you eat and how well you look after your teeth. Babies aren't immune to decay either, hence why it is important to care for those little toothy pegs as soon as they arrive.
  • Today's child health nurses must cringe when they hear stories of parents in the 1950s putting condensed milk in their baby’s bottle!  Only put expressed breast milk or infant formula, or cooled boiled water in baby’s bottle, not juice or other sweetened drinks (and no honey on the teat either!)
  • Try not to leave your baby with a bottle in his or her mouth for a long time, and encourage them to drink from a cup as soon as possible.  A cup can be introduced from 6 months of age.
  • Although their grandparents might insist otherwise, babies shouldn't really be given sweet biscuits and treats before the age of one.  After one, a little treat here and there is fine but they are best kept for the end of meals, not as snacks.  Great tooth-friendly snacks include soft raw fruit, sandwiches, pieces of cheese or crackers.
  • It is a good idea to have your toddler’s first dental check-up by their first birthday or 6 months after their first tooth appears.  And unlike many adults, kids tend to enjoy a trip to the dentist, what with the sunglasses, bright lights and stickers so no need to fear!