Give Your Child a Healthy Happy Smile

Why are baby teeth important?

  • Baby teeth are important for chewing food, learning to speak properly, holding space for adult teeth and general good health and appearance.
  • Your baby will develop 20 baby (primary) teeth.
  • The first tooth usually appears between 5 and 10 months of age.
  • If not properly cared for, baby teeth can get cavities (decay) and cause the child pain.
  • If baby teeth are removed too early, permanent teeth may grow in the wrong way.

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What is Early Childhood Tooth Decay?

  • When your baby’s first teeth appear, you need to take care of them to prevent Early Childhood Tooth Decay (ECTD).The main cause of this problem is when the teeth are not being cleaned, and liquids (other than water) are left in the mouth over and over again.

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How do I take care of my baby’s mouth and teeth?

  • Before teeth have erupted (pushed through the gum), gently clean your baby’s mouth twice a day using a clean piece of gauze or the corner of a clean washcloth.
  • When baby teeth start to appear, use a small soft toothbrush to clean them.
  • For children under age 3, no fluoride toothpaste is needed unless advised by an oral health professional.
  • Oral Care Instructions for Children are different depending on your child’s age and should be considered as your baby grows
  • Teach your child to brush at an early age to get them into the habit, even if the technique is not perfect.
  • Continue cleaning your child’s teeth at least once a day while they are learning to brush.
  • Check your baby’s teeth. Lift the baby’s top lip and look at the front and back of the top four teeth. If there are any brown or white spots between the teeth or along the gum line, take your child to the dentist.

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What should I know about teething?

  • Teething may be associated with:
    • crankiness
    • drooling
  • Fever and diarrhea are not usually related to teething.
  • If your child experiences these symptoms consult your doctor.

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How can I help my child with teething?

  • Give your baby a Canadian Standards approved teething ring that has been chilled (not frozen).
  • Do not use gels and ointments, as these can be harmful. Consult your health care professional.
  • Massage your baby’s gum with a clean finger.

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What should I know about pacifiers?

  • Pacifiers can satisfy a baby’s natural need to suck, but should not be given to baby during the first 6-8 weeks when learning to breastfeed.
  • If you decide to use a pacifier, select one that is Canadian Standards approved.
  • Check it regularly to make sure it is in good condition. Replace the pacifier if it is sticky, cracked or torn.
  • If your baby is using a pacifier, do not dip pacifier into honey, sugar, or any other sweet liquid. It is best to clean your baby’s pacifier by rinsing it under water..
  • Do not hang it around your baby’s neck with a string. Your baby could be accidentally strangled.

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What do I need to know about Thumb-sucking?

  • Thumb-sucking is common for children up to the age of four, but after four it can affect the positioning of the permanent teeth. If this habit continues, consult your dentist.

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What about nutrition for my child?

  • Children need to eat well-balanced meals to develop healthy teeth. Follow Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating. Children should not have more than the recommended amount of juice in a day, as juice has sugar, which may cause tooth decay. Quench your child’s thirst with water.

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When should my child go for his/her first dental visit?

  • Your child should visit the dentist before there is a problem with his or her teeth.
  • Your child's first dental visit should be around the age of one, or shortly after the primary teeth begin to erupt..
  • Prepare your child prior to the check-up by letting them know what happens at the dental office.
  • When talking to your child about a dental visit do not use words like hurt or pain.

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Primary Teeth (Development) Chart

Primary teeth chart
Upper Teeth When Teeth Come In When Teeth Fall Out
Central incisor 7 - 12 month 6 - 8 yrs.
Lateral incisor 9 - 13 month 7 - 8 yrs.
Canine (cuspid) 16 - 22 month 10 - 12 yrs.
First molar 13 - 19 month 9 - 11 yrs.
Second molar 25 - 33 month 10 - 12 yrs.
Lower Teeth When Teeth Come In When Teeth Fall Out
Central incisor 6 - 10 month 6 - 8 yrs.
Lateral incisor 7 - 16 month 7 - 8 yrs.
Canine (cuspid) 16 - 23 month 9 - 12 yrs.
First molar 12 - 18 month 9 - 11 yrs.
Second molar 20 - 31 month 10 - 12 yrs.


Information courtesy of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.

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