Dental care for children

Dental care for children and babies

Your child’s first teeth (baby or primary teeth) will start to appear at around six months. It is important to look after these teeth as they allow your child to bite and chew food, and reserve space in the gums for the permanent teeth. Dental care can start at birth as you can wipe the gums with a clean, moistened face washer after every feed. When the teeth start to appear, you can use a baby toothbrush and water to clean the teeth. Low fluoride toothpaste may be used later on.
Establish good dental care habits early as a child who is taught to look after their primary teeth is more likely to continue with good oral care with their permanent teeth.

Helpful hints to improve your child’s oral hygiene:

  • Set a timer for at least two minutes. Most children brush for a minute or less, which is not long enough to remove plaque.
  • While watching your child brush, point out any missed areas. Children usually forget to brush molars and the inner tooth surfaces that face the tongue.
  • Teach your child to brush teeth in a particular order to ensure cleaning of every tooth surface.
  • Brushing of the tongue helps to remove bacteria that causes tooth decay.
  • When your child is about two and a half years old, flossing should be done daily. At the least, floss twice a week. Often flossing can be difficult for a child, so it may be necessary to use floss holders as they may make flossing easier.

Good nutrition is important for oral health. Ensure your child does not consume too many sugary foods and drinks. Particular care should be taken with babies as there are 3 major causes of Early Childhood Caries (tooth decay).

  • Settling babies to sleep with bottles containing milk, fruit juice, cordials or similar sweetened drinks
  • Giving babies dummies (pacifiers) dipped in honey or other sweet products
  • Frequent on demand breastfeeding after the age of 12 months, such as continuous night-time feeding

Take your child to visit the dentist regularly for check-ups. Your dentist can check the teeth and assess risk factors for decay or other problems, advice you how to brush and clean your child’s teeth and suggest how to manage any dental health problems.