Primary teeth give shape to your child’s face and help to develop permanent teeth into the right position. These are essential for learning to eat and speak. It’s important to care for them well.
Primary teeth have a shallower outer enamel ( Enamel is the hard, outer layer of the tooth) than permanent teeth. This puts them at risk for early childhood cavity
, which can occur even before the first tooth appears. The cavity is caused by acids produced by bacteria. It happens more easily if teeth keep coming into contact with sugary liquids—such as formula, milk, juice, and even breast milk (which contains sugar)—and are not washed regularly.
Early childhood tooth decay
can affect your child’s health and put them into pain, making it difficult for your child to sleep, eat or speak. It can also affect your child’s ability to concentrate and learn. Children who had dental decay at an early age are more likely to suffer throughout childhood time.
Tips for strong oral health from birth to 6 months:
- Clean your baby’s gums with a soft, clean, damp cloth twice a day.
- As soon as the first teeth appear, clean them at least once a day (usually at bedtime) with a soft bristle toothbrush specially designed for babies.
- Place your baby on a flat surface or with their head cradled in your lap to brush their teeth.
- Avoid leaving your baby in bed with a bottle.
After 6 months:
- Introduce a sippy cup.
- Avoid juice as it is unnecessary. If you are giving it, limit juice to no more than 125 mL (4 oz) per day. Better to give them in a cup rather than a bottle and only as part of a meal or snack.
- If a bottle is required at nap time, offer water rather than milk or juice.