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Teething and tooth cleaning

It’s important to start brushing a baby’s teeth as soon as they emerge from the gums, even though they will be replaced by permanent teeth later on.



Most babies get their first tooth around the age of five to six months, and by the age of three, they should have a full set of milk teeth – usually 20.

A child’s first permanent tooth comes through around the age of six, and by the age of 14 most children will have 28 out of 32 adult teeth.

The last four, called wisdom teeth, usually come through between the ages of 18 to 25 if they are present, but they sometimes stay buried.

Brushing teeth

Start looking after your child's teeth by introducing a toothbrush. Choose one with soft to medium filaments and a small head that allows you to reach right around their teeth easily.

Using a tiny spot of fluoride toothpaste, ideally a children’s toothpaste, gently scrub the tooth surface and gum margins.

Toothbrush rejection

If your child resists the toothbrush, try wiping their teeth with a clean piece of moist gauze to which you have added a tiny spot of fluoride toothpaste.

Get into the habit of cleaning their teeth twice a day – in the morning and at night. Milk contains milk sugars so it’s best to brush after, rather than before, their last milk drink.

More information

Fore more information about teething and tooth cleaning, visit the British Dental Association’s website BDA Smile.

Last reviewed by Great Ormond Street Hospital: 4 December 2009