Teething marks an exciting developmental milestone and often starts parents thinking, “How should
I keep baby’s teeth healthy? Do they need cleaning when there’s only a tiny bit of a tooth?”
Oral cleaning can start as early as you like. Even before teeth arrives, oral cleaning by gently wiping
the gums and tongue after feeding is a good idea. Once a tooth cuts through, baby’s oral hygiene
must become a part of routine. Oral health is an important part of general health and well-being.
Here are five tips for ensuring teething toddlers’ teeth stay healthy:
1. ESTABLISH A MOUTH AND TEETH CLEANING ROUTINE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
Pick a time of day that suits you. Cleaning can happen any time. Before teeth are visible, use a soft
cloth to gently wipe baby’s gums and tongue will help baby get into the habit of mouth cleaning and
toothbrushing later. Gentle cleaning will also increase baby’s saliva which increases washing away of
any debris and increase natural immune defence from saliva’s antibodies etc. Once there are several
teeth, changing over to a toothbrush is recommended for more effective toothbrushing.
As for toothpastes, only a rice grain size of paste is enough, as baby is not able to spit out. The
Australian Dental Association recommends children’s toothpaste from 18mths of age but the
American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and International Association of Paediatric Dentistry,
recommends toothpaste as soon as teeth emerge, to maximize the benefits from fluoride.
2. AVOID PROLONGED GRAZING ON TEETHING RUSKS AND OTHER FOODS OR DRINKS
Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease. Prolonged retention of foods and drinks
(including formulae), especially sugar containing items, in baby’s mouth is a sure way of getting
tooth decay. For the same reason, avoid adding sweeteners or flavours on chew toys or pacifiers.
Even seemingly healthy additions, such as honey, can cause tooth decay.
3. DRINK WATER
The Australian National Infant Feeding Guideline recommends that baby can start drinking cooled
boiled tap water from the age of 6mths. Juice is not recommended and may with intake of formula
or breastmilk. Encourage the drinking of water after eating solids. By drinking water, food debris can
be washed away from the mouth and saliva is encouraged. Establishing a water drinking habit early
in life, will also lessen the likelihood of not drinking water later in life or choosing other beverages
that are less healthy.
4. CLEAN CHEW TOYS AND WIPES LITTLE HANDS FREQUENTLY
During the teething age, is also the same age as when baby learns to explore their world by putting
things into his or her mouth. Infections can become a problem. To avoid frequent infections, clean
chew toys and wipes little hands frequently.
For healthy teeth, it is also wise to avoid sharing foods, drinks or utensils. Baby gets his or her mouth
bacteria community during the first 3 years of life. By sharing foods or drinks or utensils, decay
causing bacteria from someone else is more likely to establish themselves into baby’s mouth,
thereby increasing the risk of tooth decay.
5. BOOK IN THAT FIRST DENTAL CHECK
The current recommendation is for all children to have their dental check up when their first tooth
cuts through or by the age of 12mths (which ever happens first). Good oral health from the start will
provide lifelong benefits, not only for teeth, but also for general health and well-being.
BLOG POSTS BY DR ANNETTA TSANG, PAEDIATRIC DENTIST, FOR CHEEKY CHOMPERS