Looking after milk teeth

Dossier : Children's teeth: how can we look after them?

Brushing baby teeth, brushing teeth effectively, bad breath in children

Milk teeth are important to a child's successful development. Therefore, it's necessary to look after them. What role do they play? What should you do to keep them healthy? What is the best brushing technique for a baby’s teeth? How can you help your child to develop good brushing habits from a young age? Find all the answers to these questions.







Humans develop two successive sets of teeth. The first set of teeth are commonly known as milk teeth. They usually appear between 6 months and two and a half years. They are temporary and total 20. They consist of:

  • 8 incisors
  • 4 canines
  • 8 molars

Even though they don't stay in the child's mouth for long, milk teeth are vital to a child’s development. They contribute to speech and language development, the alignment of permanent teeth, as well as the development of the chewing function. 


In very young children, milk teeth are much stubbier than permanent teeth. The tooth enamel and dentine are thinner and less mineralised which makes them more susceptible to developing cavities.

Therefore, it's very important to look after children's milk teeth and to teach them the basics of a good healthy diet. 

The consumption of sugary foods, not brushing enough and irregular visits to the dentist at a young age encourage the development of oral problems. These factors even affect the development of cavities during adolescence!


From brushing their first tooth to their first trip to the dentist, here's how to take care of your children’s teeth.

A regular teeth-cleaning routine is essential for good dental health. Follow these tips and you can help keep your kids' teeth decay-free:  

  • Start to brush your baby's gums with a soft toothbrush at bath time, or even let your baby have a go themselves as long as you supervise them. This establishes brushing their teeth as part of the washing routine.
  • Start brushing your baby's teeth with fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first milk tooth breaks through (usually at around six months, but it can be earlier or later). It's important to use a fluoride paste as this helps prevent and control tooth decay. 
  • Children under the age of three can use a smear of family toothpaste containing at least 1,000 ppm (parts per million) fluoride. Toothpaste with less fluoride is not as effective at preventing decay. Children between the ages of three and six should use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste containing 1,350-1,500 ppm fluoride. Check the toothpaste packet for this information or ask your dentist. 
  • Make sure your child doesn’t eat or lick the toothpaste from the tube.
  • Brush your child's teeth for at least two minutes twice a day, once just before bedtime and at least one other time during the day. Encourage them to spit out excess toothpaste but not to rinse with lots of water.
  • Supervise tooth brushing until your child is seven or eight years old, either by brushing their teeth yourself or, if they brush their own teeth, by watching how they do it. From the age of seven or eight they should be able to brush their own teeth, but it’s still a good idea to watch them now and again to make sure they brush properly and for the whole two minutes. 


Cavities are caused by acid producing bacteria present in the mouth. This acid attacks tooth enamel, and can form little white marks. Even if they are only slightly visible, you can still see them with the naked eye. A good way of checking a baby's mouth for signs of decay before its first oral health appointment could be to visit a dentist, a paediatrician or a GP.

Milk teeth start to fall out from the age of 5 or 6 years old. The last ones fall out around 10 or 11 years old. After 6 years old, permanent teeth start to appear. Therefore, we recommend adopting new oral hygiene habits.

Ref: J&J internal data

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