Dental Healthcare (Infants and Young Children)

Healthy teeth are an important part of your child’s overall health.

  • A child’s first set of teeth is called primary or baby teeth.
  • Babies usually start cutting teeth when they are around six months old.
  • Most children have all 20 primary teeth by age three.
  • Permanent teeth start to come in by age six, with most in place by age 13.

Good dental care should begin before a baby’s first tooth appears. Just because you can’t see the teeth doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Teeth begin to form in the second trimester of pregnancy. Your baby has 20 fully developed primary teeth located in their jaw at birth.

How to care for your infant’s/child’s teeth (click to expand) »
  • Before your baby starts teething, run a clean, damp washcloth over the gums to clear away harmful bacteria.
  • Once your baby gets teeth, brush them with an infant toothbrush. Use water and a tiny bit of fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice). You can also use a damp, clean cloth to clean them.
  • Once your baby’s teeth touch, you can begin flossing between them.
  • Around age two, your child should learn to spit while brushing. Avoid giving your child water to swish and spit because swallowing toothpaste might be more likely.
  • Kids ages three and up should use only a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
  • Young children are not able to clean their own teeth. As a parent, you must do it for them when they are very young (under three years old) and do it with them as they get older (between three and six years old).

Development of good oral health habits is a lifelong skill that will contribute to a healthy lifestyle.

Healthy nutrition for healthy teeth (click to expand) »
  • The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends exclusively breastfeeding your baby until six months of age and continuing beyond that with the addition of solid foods.
  • If using pacifiers, never dip or coat the pacifier in a sweet solution to make it taste better. Do not not place the pacifier in your own mouth to clean or moisten it because bacteria from your mouth will end up in your child’s mouth.
  • Your child should stop any pacifier or thumb sucking habits by the time they are four to five years old because the sucking can cause crooked second teeth. Ask your dentist or health-care provider for help to reduce or stop using a pacifier.
Visiting the dentist (click to expand) »

Helping your child develop good oral health begins at birth. Early childhood tooth decay can affect your child’s health and cause pain, making it hard to sleep, eat or speak. It can also affect concentration and learning.

  • Children who develop dental decay at an early age are more likely to suffer from it throughout childhood.
  • The first birthday is the recommended time to visit the dentist and, in most cases, every six months after that. During the first few dental visits, the dentist will look at your child’s teeth and talk to you about taking care of them.
  • Cleanings and other treatments usually start when your child is about age three.
  • A regular checkup is important to prevent and fix problems early to avoid big problems.
  • For information on Newfoundland and Labradors Dental Health Program visit the Health and Community Services website.

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Last updated: 2024-01-29