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As They Grow: Caring for Your Toddlers Teeth

Dental care starts at a young age and is important to keep teeth healthy for a lifetime. Healthy young teeth help children eat and speak clearly. Baby teeth guide permanent adult teeth into the proper position. Some baby teeth are not replaced by permanent teeth until the age of 12 or 13.

Here are some tips to help you get off the right start:

Healthy eating for healthy teeth

  • Offer only breast milk to your baby for the first 6 months.
  • After six months, add water in a regular cup if your baby is able to sit up alone; avoid sippy-cups.
  • Do not use food or drink to soothe your baby.
  • Give foods that are healthy, low in sugar, and do not stick to your baby’s teeth, like cheese, soft cooked vegetables, fresh fruit, and yogurt.
  • Avoid sticky foods likes raisins and sticky fruit snacks.

How to clean your baby’s teeth

  • Lift your baby’s top lip at least once a month to check their teeth.  If you see white lines or brown spots on the teeth, go to the dentist right away.
  • Start cleaning your baby’s teeth as soon as their teeth come in.
  • Clean their teeth at least 2 times each day, especially before bedtime.
  • Make small circles on the teeth and gums using a small, soft and wet toothbrush.
  • Gently brush the tongue to remove any germs and leftover food.
  • The adult who is brushing the child’s teeth should use both hands; one moves the toothbrush and the other helps to keep the baby’s mouth open.

How to clean your toddler’s teeth

  • Children 3 years and older can use a green pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste, but should still be helped by an adult.
  • Do not allow your child to swallow the toothpaste.
  • It is easier to brush a toddler’s teeth if two adults are present.
  • The parents can sit facing each other with knees touching to form a makeshift bed for the child to rest on.
  • Stabilize the child’s head and feet to prevent injury to both the child and parent.

Relieving teething discomfort

  • Avoid teething gels and ointments.
  • Offer a cooled teething ring that contains only water or a clean, cooled washcloth for your baby to chew on.
  • Massage your child’s gums with your clean finger or a clean washcloth.
  • High fever, severe diarrhea, and vomiting are not common symptoms of teething.  If these occur, take your child to the doctor.


Cavities or tooth decay are the most common chronic disease of childhood.

Cavities can

  • Lead to pain, infection, and poor nutrition
  • Affect the health of growing permanent or adult teeth.
  • May affect school performance, learning ability, and potential to thrive.

Cavities can be prevented by:

  • Regular brushing
  • Drinking fluoridated tap water
  • Eating healthy foods
  • Limiting sugary and sticky foods
  • Visiting the dentist around your child’s first birthday.  


  Oral Health Team

  Middlesex-London Health Unit


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