Parents and the
dentist play a big
role in the healthy
development of
a child’s teeth
and overall oral
health. One of
Your child’s primary teeth are important. They help your child eat and learn to
speak properly. The health of your child’s primary teeth can affect the health
of the permanent teeth. Primary teeth hold the space for permanent teeth and
help guide them into the correct position. They also contribute to healthy jaw
A total of 20 primary teeth come in, usually by the time your child is about 2 or
3 years of age. However, each child develops at his or her own pace. If you have
questions about the development of your child’s teeth, speak with your dentist.
the best ways to
keep your child’s
smile healthy
for life is to start
good oral health
Your baby begins teething when the first set of teeth erupts (breaks through) from
the gums. Teething usually begins around 6 months of age; however, it can start
any time between 3 months and 12 months of age. Some babies drool for weeks
before their first tooth comes in.
habits early.
Bring the child
to the dentist by
age 1 or within
6 months of
eruption of the
first tooth.
Some babies have no discomfort
from teething. However, if your
child seems to be in pain, it is likely
because of the soreness, swelling
and tenderness around the gums of
the erupting tooth. Your child may
be cranky, drool more and chew on
things. These symptoms may begin
about 3 to 5 days before a tooth
erupts and should stop as soon as
the tooth breaks the gum. To help
relieve the pain:
• Gently rub the gums with a clean
finger for about 2 minutes at a
• Gently rub the gums with a cool
teething ring;
Eruption chart of primary teeth
This chart is a guideline only.
Children grow at their own pace.
• Provide safe objects, like a clean teething ring, for your child to chew on;
• Wipe your baby’s face with a clean damp cloth to remove the drool and prevent
If your child is still uncomfortable, your dentist can
suggest an over-the-counter medicine to ease the
pain. Here’s what you should not do:
• Do not use a painkiller that can be rubbed on the
gums, unless you have spoken to your dentist or
doctor about it. Swallowing it could harm your
• Do not offer your baby a teething biscuit as it
can lead to tooth decay.
• Never ignore a fever. Erupting teeth do not make
babies sick or give them a fever. If your child has
a fever, check with your child’s doctor.
Start cleaning your child’s mouth even before the
primary teeth have erupted. This will get you both
into a good oral health routine and will give the
teeth a clean mouth to erupt in. The goal is to wipe
all parts of the gums and teeth.
Here’s how to do it:
• Lay your baby in a comfortable place.
• Make sure you can see into your baby’s mouth.
• Gently wipe the gums with your finger wrapped
in a clean, damp cloth. If your baby has teeth,
brush them with a soft-bristled, baby-sized
• Do not use toothpaste until your child has teeth.
Sucking is a normal, natural reflex for babies as it
comforts and relaxes them. If your child needs to
suck, introduce a soother (or pacifier). You can
control when and how your child uses a soother.
However, you can’t control when your child’s
thumb will go into the mouth. Do not let your child
use a soother all the time. Never dip a soother
in sugar, honey or corn syrup, as this can cause
It is best to get your child to stop sucking before
the permanent teeth come in. If your child keeps
sucking a soother or his or her thumb after the
permanent teeth have come in, it may cause
problems with how the jaw and teeth grow. Let
your child’s dentist know if your child has a thumbsucking habit.
As your child gets older, you may find that
squirming during brushing is a problem.
Here’s how to clean a toddler’s teeth:
• Stand the child in front of you, facing the sink
and mirror.
• Tip your child’s head back against your stomach.
This lets you control your child’s movements. It
also lets you see both the upper and lower teeth.
• Use a child-size toothbrush with a smear (size of
a grain of rice) of toothpaste.
• Brush with a gentle circular motion to clean all
tooth surfaces-the cheek side, the tongue side
and the chewing surface of each tooth.
• After brushing, have your child spit out the
It’s normal for children to want to brush their own
teeth. You can allow this, but check to make sure
your child is doing a good job. Explain that you still
want to help. A parent or adult must always carry
out at least one tooth-brushing session a day. If
your toddler isn’t cooperating, try these tips:
• Take turns brushing each other’s teeth. Let your
child brush your teeth with your toothbrush
and show your child how much fun it is to have
someone else brush your teeth. Then you take a
turn brushing your child’s teeth with your child’s
toothbrush. Toothbrushes should not be shared.
• Set an example. Let your child see you brushing.
Show off your clean teeth to your child. Your
excitement will make your child excited to brush.
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