It's exciting when baby's first tooth appears, but then what? From this moment forward, there is work to be done taking care of your child's teeth to prevent early childhood caries and teaching them good habits. It's a big responsibility, but at dentaly.org we have lots of information to help you make the right choices for your family.
Our selection of articles about dental care for babies and children answers common questions from parents about all kinds of topics including:
- Baby teeth and adult teeth
- Keeping your child's teeth clean and healthy
- Choosing the right toothbrush and toothpaste
- What to do if you notice a problem with their teeth
- Taking kids to the dentist
You'll find all of this – and much more – in the articles below.
Table of contents
Children's oral health
If you're looking for information on how to look after your child's teeth, start here. Shockingly, almost half of British kids have tooth decay by age 8. If you don't want your child to be one of them, or you want to know how to prevent further damage to your child's teeth, check out our guide to children's oral health.
We have some great advice and tips, including ways to encourage your child to brush their teeth properly and how to promote healthy snacking
You can also read about other common problems that affect children's teeth and mouths, such as mouth ulcers, gum disease, crooked teeth and dental injuries.
Begin oral hygiene steps for baby teeth as soon as you see the first one come into your child’s mouth. After that first baby tooth erupts through the gums, use a finger, or finger gum brush, to gently brush that baby tooth. This is especially important after nursing or after an infant takes a bottle, as milk sugars can promote decay of the baby teeth. Here are some tips to follow for healthy baby teeth:
- Avoid baby bottle tooth decay by never leaving a baby bottle with an infant overnight or when they sleep. Sucking all throughout the night, constantly exposes teeth to decay-causing sugars. This decay happens so easily, that it’s known as “baby-bottle tooth decay”.
- Use an infant brush that fits the size of the baby’s mouth. Use a tiny amount (rice-sized) of fluoride toothpaste for brushing.
- Wipe an infant’s teeth and gums with a wet cloth after eating to reduce plaque buildup.
- Brush teeth before bedtime, after nursing or bottle-feeding.
- Schedule infant dental visits biannually after 1 year.
Dr. Catalina Botero, Li'l Sunshine Smiles Dentistry
It's normal to have lots of questions about your baby or toddler's teeth. When will they appear? In what order? When should you start brushing them, and how? When do children start losing their milk teeth? Don't worry – we cover all of this and more in our article about baby teeth.
We also talk about some common problems that can occur at this age. If you're worried about teeth grinding, white spots, or gaps in baby teeth then you can find out what's normal and what warrants a visit to the dentist.
And what about the dreading teething phase… some babies don't seem too bothered by it while others really suffer. Our teething guide explains what the expect and what you can do to relieve the pain of teething.
Do you want to know whether using a dummy will harm your baby's teeth? Read about potential dummy teeth damage and how you can avoid it in this article.
Choosing a toothbrush and toothpaste
Are you wondering which toothpaste and toothbrush are best for your baby or child? Although the most important thing is knowing how to brush their teeth properly and helping them until they are able to do it themselves, the products you use can make a difference as well.
Electric toothbrushes for kids
An electric toothbrush can make brushing much more fun for children and encourage them to do it well. Fun cartoon characters, timers, and apps with games are just some of the features you'll find on child-friendly powered brushes.
But is the expense of an electric toothbrush really worth it? Read about the different features to consider and how to choose the right toothbrush for your children, whatever age they may be, in our guide to electric toothbrushes for kids.
Manual toothbrushes for kids and babies
A manual toothbrush can still do an effective job of keeping children's teeth clean. But it's important to choose one that's suited to your child's age, and to teach them how to use it correctly. Even with traditional toothbrushes, prices can vary considerably.
Our guide to toothbrushes for babies and children explains which features to look out for when you're choosing a toothbrush for your little ones. We also have some tips for making sure they're brushing properly and taking care of their teeth.
The best toothpaste for babies and children
With the toothbrush sorted, you'll need to choose a toothpaste. There is a lot to think about here: Does your child like it? Does it have the correct amount of fluoride for their age? Are there any ingredients you'd rather avoid?
Discover the best toothpastes for babies and children, whatever preferences you or they may have.
Children's dentist visits
Your child should have their first dental checkup by age two and continue with regular visits every year, or more often if advised. Treating tooth decay or other problems is far easier – for them and for you – with early intervention. Here are some of the treatments your dentist might recommend for your child:
Fluoride varnish is applied to teeth to protect against tooth decay. It’s most effective when applied at least every six months, and is routinely offered to children over three in the UK. It can also help adults who are at particular risk of dental caries.
Treatment with fluoride varnish is quick, pain-free, and doesn’t even need to be done in a dentist’s chair. Our article about fluoride varnish explains more about what it involves and the potential potential side effects that you should be aware of before going ahead.
The pits and fissures in our back teeth can be difficult to clean when they are particularly deep. This increases the chances of molar teeth developing decay and cavities on the biting surfaces. Fissure sealant helps to even out some of those deep grooves so that teeth are easier to clean.
This treatment is usually offered to children in the UK as a matter of course, if they would benefit from it, but adults can have their molars treated as well. Fissure sealant is non-invasive, painless, and proven to be effective at preventing cavities, but you might still have questions before you or your child go ahead with it. Read our full article about fissure sealant to understand more about what it involves and any potential risks.
Braces can be used to straighten teeth at any age, but they are usually most effective when treatment starts in childhood while the jawbone is still developing.
In our guide to braces for kids you can discover all the different kinds of braces that are suitable for children. Metal braces are one option, but less obvious clear braces and removable aligners can make kids less self-conscious about having their teeth straightened.
We also explain how much braces cost, whether your child is likely to be treated on the NHS, and how long treatment can take.
If you've noticed white spots or marks on your child's teeth, it might be a condition called dental fluorosis. This is caused by excessive fluoride consumption in childhood, while the teeth are still developing. Fortunately, cases in the UK are rarely severe and have little to no impact on the child's dental health.
Still, if you're concerned about white spots or discolouration on your baby or child's teeth, book an appointment with your dentist. They will be able to diagnose the problem and advise you on the best course of action. You can also read our fluorosis article to discover more about this condition and how to prevent it.
There are certain genetic conditions which can affect children's mouths and teeth. These might be apparent from birth or they may not be discovered until a little later in life.
Cleft palate and lip
Babies can be born with a cleft palate, a cleft lip, or both. This means they have a hole, gap or divide in the roof of their mouth and/or lip, and this can result in missing or misaligned teeth.
After surgery to repair the cleft, the child may be treated with orthodontic work and given replacement teeth of some sort. Read more about how a cleft palate and lip can affect children's teeth and what treatments are available.
Tongue tie, or ankyloglossia, occurs when the membrane under the tongue is too tight or extends further than it should. The resulting restricted tongue movement can cause a number of problems for babies, children and adults.
It's most often associated with difficulty feeding and talking properly, in which case a simple procedure or surgery can ease the problem. If not treated as a baby, there may be further complications with the teeth and oral health later in life.
Read our guide to tongue tie to learn more about the symptoms, diagnosis and possible treatment options for this condition.
Hyperdontia (extra teeth)
It's possible for people to have too many teeth – either milk teeth, adult teeth, or both. This condition is known as hyperdontia. Our guide explains what to do if your child is diagnosed as having supernumerary teeth as well as the possible treatments.
Hypodontia (congenitally missing teeth)
Conversely, it's also possible to be born with fewer teeth than normal, which is known as hypodontia. Again, this can affect baby teeth and/or adult teeth. Any number of teeth can be naturally missing, but it's very uncommon for a large number or all the teeth to be affected.
Read our article to discover the various replacement teeth options for children and teens affected by hypodontia.