Baby's first teeth - Better Lives Healthy Futures

Baby’s first teeth

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It's important to take care of your baby's teeth as soon as they appear
Photograph of a baby girl

What are baby teeth?

Photograph showing a child's mouth with adult teeth behind the baby teethBaby teeth help keep space in the mouth for the adult teeth – some remain in the mouth until the child is 12 or 13 years old. Once your baby’s first teeth appear, it is important to protect them against decay so that their adult teeth have a chance to fully develop before they come through. If baby teeth are lost early, it can mean:

  • speaking and eating are affected – so the child is self-conscious about smiling or opening their mouth, which in turn can lead to reluctance in interacting with others.
  • adult teeth do not come through in the correct position, requiring treatment later. Lost teeth can also affect speaking and eating.

Caring for your child’s teeth

It is never too early to start caring for your baby’s teeth. Start brushing as soon as the first tooth breaks through. Be sure to take your baby to the dentist before the age of one and then for regular dental checks as advised by your dentist.

This short video from our Oral Health team gives advice on how to brush children’s teeth and age-appropriate toothpaste. Lots more advice is available on the brushing teeth page.


Dummies and digits

Photograph of teeth to illustrate an 'open bite'Dummy and digit sucking can affect the movement of baby teeth and can cause an open bite which can affect your child’s speech and eating.






Photograph of a child's dummyDummies appear to cause fewer problems as this habit is easier to stop. If your child stops before their adult teeth appear at age seven, less damage is caused. However, dummies can cause speech and language difficulties if your child talks with a dummy in their mouth. It is important that the dummy should never be sweetened or dipped in anything.



photograph of a child sucking its thumbA thumb sucking habit is harder to break. If it continues, then the position of the adult teeth can be permanently affected, and self-correction is less likely to occur. The child may require complex orthodontic treatment (braces) in the future to attempt to correct the tooth position. Orthodontic treatment cannot be started until the habit has completely stopped.




Eating healthily to avoid tooth decay

This short video from our Oral Health team gives advice on how to feed your child to avoid tooth decay – you may find the healthy eating and reducing tooth decay topics on this website useful too.

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Chat Health – Community Infant Feeding team

If you're breastfeeding and need support, just text our Community Infant feeding team on 07312 263233 for confidential NHS advice
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Regular brushing will help your child to avoid tooth decay
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Reducing tooth decay

Sugary food and drinks can cause tooth decay and pain, impacting on your child's health and wellbeing
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NHS dental treatment for children is free for children under 18
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