Caring for your baby's teeth

Caring for your baby's teeth

Your baby will start getting their first teeth at around 6 months. Find out how you can look after them.

Your child: Healthy teeth

Watch to find out why your child's first teeth are important and how to care for them. Debbie, a dental therapist, talks to Renee and Dez about caring for their son's teeth, including brushing teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and eating healthy food. Watch as Renee brushes Aidan's teeth. Transcript available at the Ministry of Health website.

Ministry of Health video.

5 steps to protect your baby's smile

Healthy teeth = a healthy smile.

Follow these 5 steps to protect your baby's smile:

  1. Brush teeth twice a day.
  2. Use fluoride toothpaste.
  3. Have regular dental check-ups.
  4. Lift the lip every month to check for signs of tooth decay (holes).
  5. Choose healthy foods and drinks.

Brush teeth twice a day

Your baby will start getting their first teeth at around 6 months. These first teeth will help your baby to eat and speak well. Healthy baby teeth usually mean healthy adult teeth too, so it's important that you look after your baby's first teeth.

As soon as your baby's teeth start to show, start brushing. Use a small, soft brush and a smear of regular-strength fluoride toothpaste twice a day. One brushing should be at night before your baby goes to bed.

Use fluoride toothpaste

Fluoride makes teeth stronger and reduces tooth decay (holes). Use a 1000 parts per million (ppm) regular-strength fluoride toothpaste for your baby's teeth.

Regular dental check-ups

Your baby is eligible for free check-ups from an oral health service. It's important to enrol your child with the service as early as possible, so that you can arrange the first check-up. Regular check-ups increase the chances of finding and treating any tooth decay early. To enrol your baby with a service or to make an appointment, phone 0800 TALK TEETH (0800 825 583).

Lift the lip every month

Gently lift your baby's top lip once a month to check inside their mouth. It’s a quick and easy way to see if tooth decay is present. You can read about tooth decay and what to look for on the Plunket website.

If you are worried about your baby's teeth, talk with your Well Child Tamariki Ora nurse at the next visit, or with your doctor, or contact your Community Oral Health Service.

Choose healthy foods and drinks

Your baby may be ready to start eating solid food at around 6 months of age. To protect your baby's teeth, choose healthy foods and drinks. Sweet drinks, foods and fruit juices can cause tooth decay and cause your baby to develop a taste for sweet foods. (For tips on reducing the amount of sugar in your baby's food and drink, see the section on the UK NHS Choices website about preventing tooth decay by cutting down on sugar). Find out more about starting your baby on solid food here.

Don't put your baby to bed with a bottle. Going to sleep with a bottle of milk, a warm chocolate drink or juice will start to cause tooth decay. If they want to suck on something to settle themselves, it's better to use a pacifier/dummy.

This page last reviewed 24 September 2018.
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