Walsh Dental


508 Glynburn Road Burnside SA 5066

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08 8331 0436
04 3775 7047

The arrival of your baby’s first tooth is a significant milestone, marking the beginning of their journey toward a lifetime of dental health. Caring for baby teeth, also known as primary teeth, is crucial as they set the foundation for healthy permanent teeth and overall oral hygiene. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the essential aspects of baby teeth care and oral hygiene, ensuring your little one’s smile remains bright and healthy.

Why Baby Teeth Are Important

Baby teeth play several critical roles in your child’s development:

  • Chewing: They enable proper chewing and digestion of food.
  • Speech: They help with the correct formation of sounds and words.
  • Space Holders: They maintain space for the permanent teeth to come in properly aligned.
  • Self-Esteem: A healthy smile boosts a child’s confidence and social interactions.

When Do Baby Teeth Appear?

Most babies start to get their first teeth around 6 months old, but this can vary. Typically, the lower central incisors come in first, followed by the upper central incisors. By the age of 3, most children will have a complete set of 20 primary teeth. Here’s a general timeline:

  • 6 to 10 months: Lower central incisors
  • 8 to 12 months: Upper central incisors
  • 9 to 13 months: Upper lateral incisors
  • 10 to 16 months: Lower lateral incisors
  • 13 to 19 months: First molars
  • 16 to 23 months: Canines (cuspids)
  • 23 to 31 months: Second molars

How to Care for Baby Teeth

1. Start Early

Gum Care Before Teeth Emerge

  • Clean the Gums: Even before teeth appear, wipe your baby’s gums with a clean, damp cloth or gauze after feedings to remove milk residue and bacteria.

2. Teething

Managing Discomfort

  • Teething Rings: Offer a teething ring to help soothe sore gums.
  • Cold Washcloth: Gently rub your baby’s gums with a cold washcloth for relief.
  • Avoid Numbing Gels: Avoid over-the-counter numbing gels unless recommended by your pediatrician.

3. First Teeth

Brushing the First Tooth

  • Use a Baby Toothbrush: Start brushing your baby’s teeth as soon as the first tooth appears using a soft-bristled toothbrush designed for infants.
  • Toothpaste: Use a tiny smear (about the size of a grain of rice) of fluoride toothpaste. Increase to a pea-sized amount by age 3.

Daily Routine

  • Brush Twice Daily: Brush your child’s teeth twice a day – in the morning and before bedtime.
  • Floss: Begin flossing once teeth start to touch.

4. Diet and Habits

Healthy Eating and Drinking

  • Avoid Sugary Drinks: Steer clear of sugary beverages like juice and soda.
  • Limit Sugary Snacks: Limit sugary and sticky snacks that can promote tooth decay.
  • Use Cups Instead of Bottles: Transition to a cup as soon as your child can drink from one to avoid prolonged exposure to milk or juice, which can cause tooth decay.

Avoiding Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

  • Bedtime Routine: Never put your baby to bed with a bottle of milk or juice. If a bedtime bottle is necessary, fill it with water.

5. Dental Visits

First Dental Visit

  • Timing: Schedule your baby’s first dental visit by their first birthday or within six months after their first tooth appears.
  • Regular Check-Ups: Follow your dentist’s recommendations for regular check-ups and cleanings.

Teaching Good Oral Hygiene Habits

1. Making Brushing Fun

Engaging Your Child

  • Make It a Game: Turn brushing into a fun activity by singing songs or setting a timer.
  • Let Them Choose: Allow your child to pick out their toothbrush and toothpaste to make them feel involved.
  • Brush Together: Brush your teeth alongside your child to set a good example.

2. Reward System

Positive Reinforcement

  • Stickers and Charts: Use a reward chart with stickers to track brushing habits and celebrate milestones.
  • Praise: Give plenty of praise and encouragement for good brushing habits.

Common Concerns

1. Thumb Sucking and Pacifier Use

Managing Oral Health Risks

  • Gradual Weaning: Help your child gradually stop thumb sucking and pacifier use by age 3 to prevent misalignment of teeth and other oral health issues.
  • Positive Alternatives: Offer comfort through other means, like a favorite toy or blanket.

2. Cavities in Baby Teeth

Prevention and Treatment

  • Preventive Care: Emphasize regular brushing, flossing, and a healthy diet.
  • Dental Sealants: Discuss the option of dental sealants with your dentist to protect against cavities.


Q: When should I start using fluoride toothpaste?

  • A: Begin using fluoride toothpaste as soon as your baby’s first tooth emerges, using a tiny smear. Increase to a pea-sized amount by age 3.

Q: How can I soothe my baby’s teething pain?

  • A: Use teething rings, a cold washcloth, or gentle gum massage. Avoid using numbing gels unless recommended by your pediatrician.

Q: What should I do if my child doesn’t like brushing?

  • A: Make brushing a fun activity, use a reward system, and let your child choose their toothbrush and toothpaste.


Taking care of your baby’s teeth is an essential part of their overall health and well-being. Starting early with proper gum care, introducing a consistent brushing routine, making dental visits, and promoting healthy eating habits will set the foundation for a lifetime of good oral hygiene. Remember, baby teeth are crucial for chewing, speaking, and maintaining space for permanent teeth, so treat them with the care they deserve. By following these tips and establishing good oral hygiene habits early on, you can help ensure your child’s smile remains bright and healthy for years to come.

Walsh Dental has years of experience in treating children and we always welcome them and of course we entertain them as well!