Expert kids dentist answers your questions on caring for baby teeth

Have you ever wondered when to start brushing those tiny, new baby teeth? Feeling unsure about how to navigate flossing with a squirmy toddler? In this Q&A, we chatted with Dr Tim Keys, Paediatric Dentist at Children’s Dental Centre, Minyama, to answer all your questions about caring for baby teeth and visiting a kids dentist.

From baby teething timelines to building healthy habits, Dr Keys offers expert advice to keep your child’s smile bright and healthy.


Your questions on caring for baby teeth answered by kids dentist Dr Tim Keys


Q: At what age should a child first visit the kids dentist?

A: A child should have a dental visit by their first birthday or when the first few teeth erupt. These early visits are a bit like a well-baby check. They help us provide crucial information about oral health and what to expect. Children who see the dentist before age 3 tend to have up to five fewer fillings and extractions than late attendees. Early visits can also be fun and help children not develop anxiety at the dental practice.


Q: How do dental visits for children differ from adult visits?

Visits to the kids dentist are significantly different! Adults can have dental fear, but generally, they know what they are in for. Children, particularly at first, can have no idea what is happening. Keeping this first visit calm and fun will help your child develop an excellent dental relationship.


Q: How often should a child have checkups after that?

A: It can depend upon their risk factors, but generally, every six months.


Q: How should parents brush their child’s first baby teeth?

Start cleaning with a toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste when the first tooth appears. Cleaning should be done twice a day, with no food or drinks after the nighttime clean.


Q: What toothpaste should we use?

Most kids don’t like minty toothpaste. However, most infant toothpaste in Australia does not have enough fluoride to stop decay. The toothpastes we find most kids accept include Maclean’s Little Teeth and Big Teeth Toothpastes and Colgate 6+ Toothpastes. For children less than 3 years old, only use a grain of rice amount and STRICT supervision. Don’t be worried if they can’t spit; the amount they will swallow will not cause any harm.


Q: When do baby teeth come through?

The first baby teeth generally start coming through at six months, with all 20 teeth through by around two years old. The handy baby teething chart below will help!

Baby Teeth Chart from Kids Dentist Children's Dental Centre, Minyama, Sunshine Coast.

A baby teething chart to download and keep.


Q: What tips do you have for parents on how to prepare their children for their first trip to the kids dentist?

Preparing your child beforehand is very helpful. This can be done with a social story from us or by using a Peppa Pig dental visit story. Talking positively about going to the dentist is helpful, mainly if you are scared and do not convey that fear to them.


Q: Is a pacifier or thumb-sucking OK?

A: Sucking is a basic instinct of infants. The benefits of pacifiers before two years of age outweigh any possible risks for children younger than two years old. However, if your child is still sucking a dummy or their thumb after two years of age, it can cause changes in their teeth and jaws. Ideally, we want this to stop before five years of age to prevent damage to their permanent teeth.


Q: Should we floss baby teeth?

Yes, gently, if your child’s teeth are very close together, as food and bacteria can get stuck between them. If left for too long, decay can result, which is hard to treat. By flossing, you are removing the bacteria and food and helping your child have healthy teeth for life.

Q: How do you make that first trip (and subsequent visits!) to the dentist fun and stress-free at Children’s Dental Centre?

Our entire clinic is geared towards young, anxious and special needs children. From the time you book the appointment until you leave, we aim to make it as stress-free as possible for you. We have a fantastic toy machine for a prize at the end and we ensure we take our time with your appointments.


Q: Tell me about the children’s room and why you created it.

Our waiting room is designed more like a playground than a traditional dental one. It has a cubby house, a library of books and some fun toys. We aim not to make it feel like a dental practice but a place where patients can feel comfortable.


Q: Why is it essential that children have a regular dentist?

Dental decay is very common, at around 50%. Decay in young children can be really hard and stressful to fix, so prevention is key. If we can see children early, we can help you prevent issues from developing so they have a healthy mouth for life.

It’s also important to see the same kids dentist. We get to know your child and have their full dental records to hand at every visit, so we can always look for small changes and continuously track their oral health and development. Plus, your child will feel much more comfortable seeing the same friendly face every time!


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Children’s Dental Centre

Children’s Dental Centre

The team at Children’s Dental Centre aim to make the dental visit an enjoyable experience and help children overcome any fears and anxieties