How a child’s teeth form:

  1. Known as teeth buds, baby’s teeth are formed in their gums while they are still in the womb and will set the foundation for their primary teeth, also known as milk teeth, baby teeth or deciduous teeth.
  2. Milk teeth will sprout on average when baby is around 6-10 months old (although some may be as early as 3 months and as late as 12 months); a set of 20 milk teeth will sprout progressively. This is also called teething.
  3. The milk teeth will eventually be replaced by a set of 32 permanent teeth when baby reaches 6 years old.

The table below displays a pattern on how your baby’s teeth will normally grow, some of the symptoms and how you as a parent can help your baby ease the teething pain and discomfort.

Age (Months)




Helping Out

6 – 12


Two central bottom & top.

  • Drooling
  • Gums appear sore and red
  • Biting to relieve pressure
  • Flushed cheeks
  • Ear pulling
  • Cheek rubbing
  • Extra grizzly
  • Not feed as well
  • More stools passed
  • Rub baby’s gums with a clean finger.
  • Let baby bite on chilled (not frozen) teething ring or toothbrush.
  • If symptoms continue seek medical advice.

9 – 16

2 more incisors

Two more at the top & bottom.

13 – 28

First molar

Double teeth for chewing.

16 – 23


Point teeth – “fangs”.

2 – 3 years

2nd molar

Second set of double teeth at the back making it a total of 20 teeth.

6 years till adult

New permanent teeth erupt

New set of permanent teeth will replace the milk teeth gradually and grow into a total of 32 teeth.

  • Fever
  • Earache
  • Diarrhoea
  • Rashes
  • Crying
  • Cold, etc.

Seek medical attention if symptoms persist for a long period of time.

Tooth eruption varies from child to child
Parents should not worry if their baby sprouts their teeth later or earlier as each baby’s growth is unique. Monitor your baby closely, and help baby ease the pain of teething by keeping their teeth clean and healthy.

First Care for Baby’s Teeth

Caring for your baby’s teeth is important although they will eventually lose them.  Healthy teeth could prevent tooth decay that causes pain and discomfort to your baby.  Let’s look at some helpful tips on how to care for your baby’s teeth.


Why you should care for your baby’s teeth

Things to avoid


Baby teeth serve to hold a place and space for permanent teeth.

Do not put your baby to bed with a bottle of milk or juice.  Its sugar content can cause tooth decay.


Tooth decay and early loss can lead to permanent teeth shifting, causing orthodontic problems.

  • Feed baby with milk a little before bedtime and brush baby’s teeth before putting baby to bed.
  • Remove bottle from mouth when baby has had enough
  • Remove baby from breast when feeding is complete


Promotes baby’s speech ability.

Do not dip pacifier in sugary substance.


Healthy teeth will boost self confidence.

  • Do not use milk or juice as pacifier. Prolonged sucking on bottle will be harmful to baby’s teeth.
  • Introduce cup with water around 6-8months. Wean off bottles to cup at 12months.


Important for biting and chewing enabling baby to sample and consume nutritional food.

Try instilling a habit of drinking plain water before going bed.

Brushing / Cleaning Baby’s Teeth

How do you clean your baby’s teeth? Some babies can be fussy and won’t cooperate to have their teeth cleaned. Here are some useful tips on how you can clean and keep your baby’s or toddler’s teeth strong and healthy.


Tips on brushing / cleaning baby’s teeth


Promote Habit:

  • As soon as teeth appear, clean newborn’s gums with a damp gauze or soft washcloth to wipe off any residue.
  • Let baby hold the brush and get used to it.
  • Make brushing fun and something baby would look forward to (like singing or playing games).
  • Aim to brush twice a day



  • Use specially designed toothbrush with soft bristle and small head that is safe yet comfortable and can reach easily into baby’s inner corners of the mouth.
  • Brush gently in a circular motion and try to make baby imitate.
  • No need for toothpaste until child is around 18months of age. Then use Low-flouride toothpaste.
  • Replace brush every 10-12 weeks or when filaments start to splay. This could avoid bacterial infection and ensure better cleaning.
  • Avoid using too much baby’s toothpaste. High amount of fluoride can lead to fluorosis (appearance of white spots). Some dental practitioners suggest NO fluoride for babies under 2 years old.


Teaching a Toddler

  • The KEY to cavity-free teeth is to teach your child to develop a healthy oral care habit.
  • Toddlers imitate easily, so be a role model to your toddler.
  • Let them have control over their hygiene routine, promote and encourage them often with rewards and praises.
  • Practise often as practice makes perfect.
  • Find a toothpaste and brush that they like and is safe for them.
  • Take your toddler for dental check-ups regularly.
  • By age of 2 years, all children should have an oral assessment with a health nurse, Doctor or dentist
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