Dental Care for Babies

It is important to look after your baby's teeth as soon as they start to appear. You can expect to see your baby's first tooth before the age of six months although some babies show a tooth at 3 months.

Once you have noticed these teeth the next step is to look after these new teeth. Your baby will not be ready to look after their own teeth until they are a bit older, such as 18 months old, so you will have to do this for them.

If your baby is under the age of one then you may have to brush or wipe their teeth. But once they are able to use a toothbrush then encourage them to do so as this will mean that they learn good dental hygiene from an early age.

Dental hygiene routine

We know that dental hygiene is important and that we as adults need to develop a regular routine. This is just as important for babies and toddlers and should include the following:

  • Brushing the teeth (twice a day is good)
  • Limiting their consumption of sugary drinks and food
  • Visiting the dentist

Your baby learns by example: if they see you following a good oral routine then they will want to do the same. So, if you enjoy chocolate or have a sweet tooth generally then don't let them see you eating lots of these foods or ensure that they see you brushing your teeth after each time you do.

Cleaning the teeth

Toothbrushing is an important skill and helps to keep the teeth nice and clean. This is even more effective when combined with fluoride toothpaste. Toothbrushing is discussed further in our brushing baby teeth article.

Eating less sweets

Most children enjoy chocolate and sweets (as do quite a few adults such as the author of this article!) but too many of these are bad for their teeth. Try and reduce the amount of sweet things in your child's diet and ask friends and relatives to do the same. If it can't be avoided then ensure that your child has something sweet after a meal rather than in-between meals.

Going to the dentist

A trip to the dentist is not popular with many people but it is important to do so as it can prevent many dental problems such as tooth decay and gum disease. Plus it ensures that any problems are caught at an early stage which is better for your teeth and less expensive as well. If a dental problem is left untreated then it can lead to something more serious which will require lengthy and costly treatment. But this can be avoided by visiting the dentist on a regular basis. Take your baby to the dentist as soon as their first teeth appear as the dentist will check the condition of these as well as offering advice on how to care for their teeth.

You can arrange for your baby or toddler to visit the same dentist as you or to come with you when you go to the dentist. This means that they become used to doing so and are not frightened by the whole experience. Many children dislike visiting the dentist so anything which removes these fears is a good idea. If they grow up with the idea that there is nothing to be frightened of then hopefully, this will remain with them for the rest of their life. Plus, NHS dental treatment is free for babies and children.