Baby teething misconceptions: fact vs fiction

Caring for your family’s dental health can feel overwhelming, especially when it comes to your little one’s precious smiles.  Baby teeth, also called milk, primary, or deciduous teeth, usually start to emerge around 9 months of age*, but this can vary from 3 to 12 months. By the time they’re 3 years old, most children will have their full set of 20 baby teeth.

There are many misconceptions when it comes to baby teeth and it’s natural for parents and soon-to-be parents to have questions about how to best care for them. We’ve clarified the myths and facts about baby teething to make sure you baby’s dental health journey gets off to a great start.

Fact vs fiction


Looking after baby teeth starts before their first tooth appears. Clean your baby’s gums and tongue with a soft, damp cloth, even before they have any teeth. Once their teeth appear, progress from a cloth to a small, soft, toothbrush and start using a children’s, low-dose fluoridated toothpaste from 18 months of age.

  • Baby teeth set the pattern for the adult or permanent teeth to follow. Every tooth is important, so caring for baby teeth is crucial.
  • Baby teeth are prone to decay. Baby teeth aren’t as strong as adult teeth and can be damaged by bacteria much easier. Early childhood decay is often caused by sugary drinks and foods, including fruit juices, flavoured yoghurts and dried fruit.


  • Baby teeth move up and down in the gums. It can look like those little teeth are coming up, then down, but that’s an illusion. When a tooth emerges, there may be swelling in the gum. This swelling usually goes down, revealing more of the tooth.
  • Baby teeth don’t matter because they’re going to fall out anyway. Each baby tooth helps with eating, speaking, and making space for adult teeth.
  • Baby teeth don’t need brushing. Tooth decay works in the same way, regardless of age. Sugar in foods fuels bacteria in dental plaque, leading to acid erosion of tooth enamel and the formation of cavities. Maintaining good oral hygiene and limiting sugar intake can help break the cycle of decay.
  • Don’t worry if a baby tooth falls out. When a baby or adult tooth falls out, it’s like removing a book from a bookshelf without replacing it. Similarly, in the mouth, the surrounding teeth can then shift into the empty space. This shifting can cause both functional (chewing) and aesthetic (appearance) changes.
  • Babies and children can brush their own teeth. Children usually develop the ability to do a thorough job of tooth cleaning around age 8. Let them practice, but make sure to always brush their teeth yourself as well.

A final tip!

Take your baby for their first dental visit when their first tooth appears or when they turn 1, whichever comes first. Book an appointment with your dentist to learn more about your baby’s teeth. If you’re unsure of what is best for your child, your dentist can provide information and help for you and your baby.




Caring-for-your-child-s-teeth.aspx (