Oral health Tips for Babies and Toddlers

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Caring for your child’s teeth from an early age is pivotal for their long-term dental health. Here are ten essential tips to help your little ones maintain a healthy smile from their first tooth. 

1. Start Early 

The foundation of good oral hygiene begins well before the first tooth emerges. It is recommended by paediatric dentists that parents start cleaning their baby’s gums within the first few days after birth. This can be done by dampening a soft, clean cloth with water and gently wiping the gums to remove any food particles and bacteria. 

This practice not only helps keep the mouth clean but also acclimates the child to the routine of oral care, making the transition to toothbrushing smoother as teeth begin to appear.  For more detailed guidance, you can refer to the NHS page on caring for your child’s teeth.

This organisation offers a variety of educational materials focused on oral health for babies and young children. You can refer the video to help your kids develop habits that are beneficial for oral health.  

2. First Tooth, First Visit  

The emergence of the first tooth is a significant milestone in a baby’s life and signals the need for their first dental visit. The British Dental Association advises that this visit should occur within six months of the first tooth’s appearance or by the child’s first birthday, whichever comes first. 

This early visit to a dentist in Wimbledon allows for an assessment of the child’s oral health, provides parents with guidance on preventive oral care, and establishes a dental home early on. Early dental visits are crucial for educating parents about proper brushing techniques, the impact of diet on oral health, and other care tips to prevent early childhood caries.

3. Choose the Right Toothbrush  

Selecting an appropriate toothbrush for a baby or toddler is essential. The toothbrush should have a small head to fit comfortably in the child’s mouth and soft bristles to prevent irritation of delicate gum tissues. Toothbrushes designed specifically for infants are often equipped with larger, easy-to-grip handles to facilitate handling by parents. 

It’s important to replace the toothbrush every three months or sooner if the bristles become frayed, as worn-out bristles do not clean effectively and may harbour harmful bacteria. 

4. Be Mindful of Toothpaste Amount 

When it comes to toothpaste, less is more for young children. Parents are advised to use only a smear of fluoride toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice, for children under three years old. 

This minimal amount reduces the risk of fluoride ingestion, which can lead to dental fluorosis while still providing sufficient fluoride to help prevent tooth decay. For children aged three to six, a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is appropriate. This guidance helps ensure that children benefit from fluoride’s protective effects against cavities without adverse effects. 

NHS Video on Brushing Children’s Teeth (0-7 years) 

This instructional video provides detailed, step-by-step guidance on brushing your baby’s teeth effectively. It also includes practical tips to integrate toothbrushing into your child’s daily routine seamlessly.  

5. Address the Bottle  

Bottle feeding, especially during bedtime, is a common practice but can pose significant risks to oral health if the bottle contains sugary liquids like milk, formula, or juice. The sugars from these liquids can cling to the teeth for hours, fostering bacterial growth that produces acids, leading to tooth decay. 

This condition, often referred to as “bottle caries,” can severely damage infant teeth. To prevent this, it is advisable to ensure the child finishes their bedtime bottle before going to sleep and to transition to a cup as they approach their first birthday. 

6. Limit Sugary Snacks 

Promoting a diet with minimal sugar intake is vital for the prevention of cavities, particularly in young children whose dental hygiene may not yet be thorough. Parents are encouraged to choose whole fruits rather than fruit juices. When sweets are consumed, it’s best to do so during meals rather than as standalone snacks to reduce the amount of time sugar is in contact with the teeth. 

7. Teething Relief  

Teething can be a stressful time for both infants and parents, marked by discomfort and irritability due to the eruption of new teeth through the gums. To provide relief, parents can offer a clean, cool teething ring or gently massage their child’s gums with a clean finger. This helps to soothe the discomfort and can be a bonding experience. It’s important to avoid teething rings that contain liquids or gels, which can break and leak, and to supervise the child to ensure safe use.

8. Discourage Prolonged Pacifier Use   

While pacifiers are effective in soothing infants, prolonged use can lead to dental problems, such as misalignment of the teeth and changes in the roof of the mouth, according to experts at NewMouth. 

Ideally, children should be weaned off pacifiers by the age of two to three years to prevent these orthodontic issues. Strategies for weaning include gradually reducing pacifier use, offering alternative forms of comfort, and using positive reinforcement to encourage the child to give up the pacifier.

9. Supervised Brushing  

Effective oral hygiene is not instinctual; it requires careful instruction and supervision. Parents should oversee their child’s tooth-brushing practices until at least the age of six, by which time most children can be expected to brush their teeth effectively and spit out toothpaste without swallowing it. 

Supervision ensures that they are using the correct amount of toothpaste, employing proper brushing techniques, and maintaining the full two-minute brushing time recommended by dental health professionals. The NHS underscores the importance of supervised brushing until the age of seven to ensure proper technique and the use of correct toothpaste amounts.

Fun Ways to Encourage Kids to Brush 

A cute baby brushing with yellow brush

This video is packed with creative suggestions to make brushing more enjoyable for children. Ideas include brushing teeth to music or allowing children to choose their own toothbrushes and toothpaste. 


Starting oral hygiene habits early can instil lifelong dental health. By following these tips and consulting a top hygienist in Wimbledon, you can help ensure your baby or toddler’s teeth are healthy and strong. Remember, proactive dental care is a cornerstone of overall health, setting the foundation for a bright, confident smile as they grow.

Author Name: Ankita Patel is a dedicated Dentist at The Dental Lounges, located in the heart of Cardiff, UK. With an extensive background in comprehensive patient care and a keen eye for the latest trends in dental health, Ankita serves as a vital resource for both her patients and the broader community. Outside the clinic, she dedicates her time to creating insightful and reader-friendly content for numerous esteemed online platforms.

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