Teeth: Dental care for children

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Learn how to keep your child’s teeth and gums healthy and prevent tooth decay through regular cleaning, flossing and dental visits.

Key points

  • Tooth decay happens when bacteria on the teeth produce acid while breaking down food and drink. This acid is normal, but it can damage tooth enamel if it is not washed away regularly.
  • Start cleaning your child's teeth early. Wipe the gums with a damp cloth after every feeding, starting when your child is around three months old. When the first tooth appears, you can start using a baby toothbrush.
  • To prevent early childhood cavities, do not let your child fall asleep on the breast or with a bottle of juice, milk or other sweetened liquid in their mouth. Other ways to reduce cavities include limiting eating to snacks and mealtimes and keeping juice and other sugary drinks to a minimum.
  • Brush your child's teeth at least twice a day and preferably after every meal. Brushing before bedtime is very important.
  • If your child is not at risk of tooth decay, start using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste when they turn three. Until they are age six, supervise them while they are brushing and make sure they spit out the toothpaste.
  • Flossing is important. You can start flossing your child's teeth from around age three.
  • Take your child to their first dentist appointment within six months of the eruption of their first tooth or by 12 months of age. Try to have a positive attitude when taking your child to the dentist.
Last updated: October 17th 2023