By Raising Children Network
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About children's teeth

Baby teeth and adult teeth chart illustrations
  • Baby teeth can arrive in any order, although the central bottom teeth are often first. All the baby teeth will usually arrive by the time your child is three years old. You can start cleaning your child’s teeth as soon as they come through. Use a clean, soft cloth for younger babies up to 17 months old.

  • The 32 adult teeth replace the baby teeth between the ages of 6 and 20. These teeth are not replaced. Your child will need supervision and help to clean teeth until at least the age of eight. Brush teeth and gums twice a day, once in the morning and once at night before bed.


Preparing to brush

Use a smear of toothpaste; stand behind your child and support her chin; check for decay
  • How much toothpaste? For children 18 months to 6 years, place a smear of low-fluoride toothpaste on a small, soft toothbrush. Use a pea-sized amount of standard fluoride toothpaste once your child is six years old. Ask your dentist for toothpaste advice if you don’t have fluoridated water.

  • Sit or stand behind your child in a brightly lit place, ideally in front of a mirror. This way your child can see what you’re doing. You might find it easiest to sit a toddler on your lap.

  • Use your free hand to support or cradle your child’s chin. Ask her to open up and say ‘aaahh’. Check for any signs of decay, such as a white or brown line close to the gums. Also check for any build up of plaque on the teeth around the gum line.


Brushing your child’s teeth

Use circular motions; spit without rinsing; eat a nutritious diet.
  • Using small circular motions, brush all sides of each tooth – front, back, top and each side - making sure you clean the gum margins. Start with the back teeth first – these are not replaced until your child is 10-12 years old, so they need the most attention.

  • After you’ve finished brushing your child’s teeth, help him up to the basin. Ask him to spit out any toothpaste left in his mouth, without rinsing. Rinse toothbrush, and place somewhere clean to dry.

  • A nutritious diet is essential to good dental health. Avoid giving your child sugary snacks between meals or sweetened drinks such as soft drink and fruit juices. Avoid giving your child a bottle of milk, formula or juice to take to bed. Always take the bottle away after feeding.

  • Last updated or reviewed 24-12-2010