From around six months onwards (although it’s important to note all children are different) your little one’s teeth should steadily begin to pop up.
And at around two-and-a-half years old or so – after bravely getting through teething – they should have a full set of 20 baby or ‘milk’ teeth.
Instilling the importance of good tooth care in your child from an early age is crucial. Here's all the advice you need to know for this stage:
1. Use the correct toothbrush
Choose a small, soft-bristled toothbrush with a round head. You should know by looking at it if it will fit comfortably in your child’s mouth. Change the brush every three months, or as soon as the bristles begin to spread out. This is also a good opportunity to assess if you need to go up a size as your child grows.
2. Choose a low-fluoride toothpaste
3. Set a routine right away
The key to healthy teeth is routine. Brush your toddler’s teeth twice a day at consistent times – once early on in the day, and once before they go to bed.
4. Make tooth-brushing a pleasant experience
Croon or sing to them as you gently brush their teeth with small circular movements. This will help make tooth brushing more positive, and they will be more likely to look forward to it. Praise and encouragement like “Yes, you did it!” and “Great job” can also go a long way in helping them enjoy the experience.
5. Use persuasion
Tooth-brushing can sometimes become a power struggle, so if your little one is refusing resolutely to have their teeth brushed, don’t force it. Instead, gently persuade them – the tactic to achieve that is up to you! Try reward stickers, or a wall chart with the goal of a weekly or monthly treat. It’s all about trial and error, so stay relaxed and don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
6. Lead by example
Brushing your own teeth in front of your toddler will encourage them to take your lead. As soon as they’re old enough, why not start brushing your teeth together? It will (hopefully!) make them feel all grown up, just like mummy.
7. Let them choose their own toothbrush
Making a big fuss around shopping for your toddler’s ‘special’ toothbrush will make them more likely to want to use it. Take them to the supermarket or chemist, and allow them the ‘big responsibility’ of picking the colour and style they want.
8. Encourage your baby to spit after every clean
The earlier a habit is introduced, the more likely it is to stick, so encourage your little one to spit after every tooth clean. They probably won’t get to grips with it right away, but the key is to introduce this habit as early as possible.
9. Visit the dentist
The usual time to take your baby to the dentist is about six months after their first tooth appears, but if you have any concerns prior to that, call or pop into your dental clinic for advice.