Oral Health for Infants and Toddlers

Helping your child to a healthy start in life …

Children’s primary (baby) teeth are important for many reasons. They play a vital role in healthy diet, learning to speak and showing a child’s unique personality. In addition, primary teeth keep the correct spaces for the permanent (adult) teeth to move into later on. For all these reasons, it is important to take good care of the primary teeth.

Before the baby is born

A baby’s teeth start to form during pregnancy. By the time the baby is born, a full set of primary teeth has begun to form underneath the baby’s gums.

During the last three months of pregnancy, the mother provides the minerals needed to calcify the baby’s teeth. These minerals do not come from the mother’s teeth – and there is no truth to the saying a tooth is lost for every pregnancy. The best source of these minerals is from an increased intake of dairy foods (or other calcium rich foods and drinks) by the mother.


Baby’s first tooth usually comes through the gum between 6 to 9 months of age. A full set of 20 primary teeth should be present in the mouth by 3 years of age.

Teething can cause some pain and discomfort for babies – including red, swollen and sore gums. This can often make babies irritable and can cause increased dribbling, flushed cheeks and changed eating patterns. Giving baby a clean cold teething ring will usually give some relief.

Thumb and finger sucking

Babies have a natural sucking reflex that begins before birth. They often find it very soothing to suck a thumb, finger or dummy. For some children prolonged sucking habits cause the front teeth and the surrounding bone to be pushed out of shape. Luckily most children stop the habit on their own. If the habit continues into preschool years, your dentist will be happy to provide advice.

Tooth decay in early childhood

Just like adult teeth, the primary teeth can decay from the time they appear in the mouth. In fact, teeth decay more readily when they first come into the mouth. As teeth mature in the mouth, they become harder ad can resist tooth decay better.
Decay is caused when bacteria use sugars from foods to produce acids. These acids attach teeth causing mineral loss. The very early stages of mineral loss are reversible but continued acid attack leads to a cavity that may require a filling.

Good diet habits start early

Eating patterns, as well as the types of food and drinks given to young children are very important. Foods that stick to teeth for long periods of time, such as sticky toffees can also lead to tooth decay.

Tooth brushing

Tooth brushing should begin when the first baby teeth appear in the mouth at 6-9 months of age. Use a small soft bristled toothbrush to gently brush your child’s teeth.

When they can brush their own teeth, it is important that they brush twice a day. Getting them used to brushing early sets up good oral health habits for life.

For more information call us today and book your little one in for their dental check-up.