Dental Care for Baby Teeth

Before you know it, your newborn’s adorable gummy grins have become real toothy smiles.  Cute as they are, your child’s baby teeth are placeholders for their adult teeth so it’s really important to take good care of them.

We caught up with dentist Dr Kestrel Imamura from Sydney to find out about baby dental care, making teething a breeze and your child’s first visit to the dentist…

Baby Teeth

Newborns have 20 baby teeth buried in their gums which have usually emerged by the time a child turns three.  “Generally the two lower front teeth appear first, usually between 6-10 months,” says Dr Imamura.  “However, some will erupt much later and some a lot sooner.  Amazingly, some babies are actually born with one or more teeth.”

Teething Troubles

Most parents are all too familiar with the unsettled and clingy behaviour that accompanies teething.  Soothing gels such as Bonjela can provide relief or you can try gently rubbing your baby’s gums.

Another simple and cheap trick Dr Imamura suggests is to roll up a clean washcloth, soak it with water and pop it in the freezer.  Chomping on the frozen cloth creates a slight numbing effect and brings relief to sore and swollen gums.

“There is also a plethora of teething toys on the market if you prefer something cuter than a washcloth,” she says.

Baby Teeth Care

It is just as important to keep baby teeth clean and free of decay as you would with adult teeth.  Baby or primary teeth keep spaces in your child’s mouth for when their permanent teeth are ready to erupt.  Premature loss of baby teeth can cause movement of adjacent teeth and ultimately lack of room for the adult teeth to come through.

Looking after baby teeth is pretty simple. Dr Imamura suggests: 

  • “Use a soft cloth or muslin square wrapped around your finger to wipe your baby’s teeth once or twice a day.
  • When more teeth start to erupt, switch to a small-headed soft toothbrush and aim for a definite twice a day routine.”
  • Clean in soft circular motions and be sure to get to each tooth.  Remember that any toothpaste used must be age-appropriate due to the level of fluoride content, and only use a smear.
  • There are several mobile apps, such as the Macleans Nurdle Time Brushing app, which make teeth cleaning fun for kids using characters and timers to ensure teeth are cleaned for two minutes.
  • Diet also plays a role in tooth decay so alongside a regular teeth cleaning schedule, avoid sugary foods and drinks and encourage water drinking throughout the day.

First Trip to the Dentist

To ensure your child’s teeth and gums are healthy, it’s recommended that they are checked by a dentist by the time they are 2 years old.  Your child’s first dental visit should just be about familiarising them with the dental setting.

“Masks, gloves and glasses can be pretty daunting for adults let alone little ones,” says Dr Imamura.  “Give your child a chance to get used to being at the dentist by taking them with you on your 6 monthly check ups.  When they start their own checkups, don’t be upset if it takes a couple of visits before they will open their mouth. Most children warm up eventually and can’t wait to get in the chair.”

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