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Dental care for younger children

When will my baby's teeth appear?

Your baby will start teething at about six months and will continue until all 20 'milk teeth' are present at the age of about two years. The permanent teeth usually develop between the ages of six and 14 years.

Is teething painful?

Most children do suffer teething pains to some extent. Biting on hard, cool objects seems to help, and some teething rings can be cooled in the fridge. Teething gels may be applied by gently massaging them onto the baby's gums with your finger, although this can be difficult due to the amount of saliva in the baby's mouth caused by teething.

As teething pains can vary, it’s best to check with your dentist if your baby seems to be very distressed.

When should I take my baby to the dentist for the first time?

Discuss this with your dentist, but your baby could accompany you on your own routine check-ups, as this can help the baby to become familiar with the surroundings.


Your dentist will be able to offer advice and prescribe medicines for teething pains, and will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Your baby's own check-ups can start at about six months.

What about my baby's diet?

If your baby is breast-fed, try to keep your baby to routine feeds. If not, ensure that any foods and drinks which contain sugars are kept to feed times only. NEVER dip your baby's dummy or teething ring into fruit syrups or fruit juices, or give anything containing sugars before bedtime. These can expose your baby's teeth to harmful acids, which can attack the newly formed teeth and cause decay.

When should I start cleaning my baby's teeth?

Very young children are unable to clean their own teeth effectively until about the age of six years. Until this time they need your help. You should begin cleaning your child's teeth once teething has started. As so much time will be taken up looking after your baby, it is important that you remember to take the time to look after your own teeth!

How should I clean my baby's teeth?

First, position yourself behind your child and cradle their head with one hand.  Use a small, soft nylon bristle toothbrush with a small amount of toothpaste containing fluoride, and gently massage around the teeth and gums. As your child grows older it may be difficult to use this technique but, gradually, more responsibility for cleaning teeth can be given to the child. Until they can manage by themselves, it is important that you clean their teeth thoroughly at least once a day.

Will my baby need Fluoride supplements?

Fluoride does help to strengthen children’s teeth. However, as fluoride can be naturally found in some water supplies, it is important to ask your dentist if supplements are advisable in your child’s case. If they are, supplements can start at about six months - your dentist will advise on the level of supplement necessary.

Can thumb sucking or dummy sucking affect my baby's teeth?

If this happens continuously over a number of years, the tooth alignment can be affected and straightening techniques, such as orthodontics, may be needed when the child is older.

What if my baby damages a tooth?

In the event of any accidents or damage to your child’s teeth, contact your dentist immediately. If this occurs outside normal opening hours, your dentist will have emergency cover arrangements. Contact the surgery to find out who to call.