Baby Teeth

Looking after your children’s baby teeth is a really important aspect of your kid’s health. Sadly cavities and tooth decay is really common in young children. You can avoid bad teeth with a healthy diet and good tooth care. Little habits that you can start that will lead to a life time of healthy teeth.

How to clean Baby Teeth to avoid tooth decay and dental caries by Dr Orlena Kerek, paediatrician

Baby Gums

You can start brushing your baby’s gums before they even have teeth. It gets them used to a tooth brush and helps to keep their gums clean.

When should Baby start Brushing Teeth?

Baby teeth arrive at different times. The average time to start teething is at 6 months. Start to clean your baby's teeth as soon as they arrive.

Brushing Baby Teeth

You can buy baby tooth brushes that double as teethers. They have little rubbery handles that babies can hold as soon as they learn how. They are a great first toothbrush. If you can't find a teething one, a normal baby toothbrush is fine. A brush that is the correct size for their mouth (small) with soft bristles.

Use a very small amount of baby toothpaste. The tube should say what age it is suitable for. Baby toothpaste has less fluoride in it as children often swallow tooth paste and fluoride is toxic if consumed. Use just a small smear on the toothbrush.

  • Small baby toothbrush with soft bristles
  • Pea sized amount of baby tooth paste.

How do I Clean my Baby's Teeth?

If your baby is too small to hold the toothbrush, gently brush their gums and teeth twice a day. As soon as they are old enough to grab it, no doubt they will pull it off you and start chewing it. That's fine. In fact, it's great as most of cleaning teeth is in the brushing rather than the toothpaste. (Make sure you have a go at cleaning them first.)

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay happens because bacterial eat away at your teeth. Bacteria feed off sugar and hide in plaque which builds up on your teeth. The result is holes in your teeth which look black and horrible and can be painful.

Even young children can get tooth decay. It is very sad.

How to Brush Baby Teeth to avoid tooth decay and dental caries by Dr Orlena Kerek, paediatrician. Teach healthy habits from an early age.

Avoiding Tooth Decay

If you have a healthy diet and brush your teeth it’s easy to avoid tooth decay (as long as you don’t have any other problems with your teeth.)

Sugar and acid in your teeth will contribute to tooth decay so keep sweets and sugary drinks as a treat. Some fruit is very acidic, such as oranges. Eat a variety of different fruit and vegetables to avoid eating too much acidic fruit.

  • Brush teeth twice a day for 2 minutes.
  • Drink mostly water (unless your baby is still on a milk diet).
  • Sugary treats are better after meals rather than in between meals.
  • Stop bottles as soon as possible. As soon as you start to introduce your baby to solids, you can start them on a sippy cup. Bottles are bad for teeth as they create a sugary environment in your mouth. Milk is very sugary. Please don’t put other drinks in a bottle other than milk or water.
  • Stop pacifiers as soon as possible. Like bottles, they create a sugary environment. Stop them as soon as you can and definitely after the age of 1.
  • Diary products, such as cheese can be protective against tooth decay as they help your mouth to produce saliva. But remember that milk, even breast milk is sugary and it's best if you can brush your baby's teeth after they have had their evening milk. (Although brushing them before having milk is better than not brushing them at all.)

Teach your children the healthy habits of looking after their teeth and eating a healthy diet and they will enjoy healthy teeth for a long time.

See also, Beware of Sugary Drinks and How to Brush your Children's Teeth