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How to enrol your 0-4 year old into the BOPDHB Oral Health Service:


Click here for the online enrolment request form


  • Contact 0800 TALK TEETH (0800 825 583)
  • Discuss enrolment with your child's doctor, practice nurse, Well Child/Tamariki Ora provider or public health nurse
  • Visit your local Community Dental clinic or mobile unit
  • Contact your Early Childhood Education Centre for an 0 - 4 Enrolment Request card
  • Contact your Oral Health Promoter


Clinics Open this Week 

  • Click here to view which clinics are open this week


Baby Teeth

Teething is a normal part of every child's development. It starts when the first baby tooth cuts through the gum, at about six months. 

Baby teeth are important, not only for chewing food - they contribute to self-esteem, confidence, appearance and proper speech. The baby teeth also hold spaces for, and guide the position of adult teeth.

If baby teeth are removed ahead of their natural time to fall out, space for the adult teeth may be lost.

This can cause crooked and crowding of the adult teeth, which can lead to other problems. Healthy baby teeth set the stage for healthy adult teeth.


Early Childhood Caries (tooth decay) and Feeding

Early Childhood Caries (tooth decay) refers to the gradually break down of a baby tooth that develops when bacteria and sugars appear together.

The bacterium in plaque reacts with sugar consumed in the daily diet to produce an acid that attacks the minerals in teeth. Each time you eat or drink, acid can attack the teeth for 20 minutes or longer after the last exposure to sugar. After many attacks, tooth decay can develop.

About one in ten children get tooth decay (Early Childhood Caries) before they are two years old.

Baby teeth are not as strong as adult teeth. The enamel is thinner and the teeth are smaller, so anything that causes decay in adult teeth will decay a lot faster in a baby's tooth.

The most common cause of tooth decay is placing a baby in bed at night with a bottle of milk or sweetened liquid. The milk or liquid clings to the teeth all night. Tooth decay begins! Keep baby safe, by holding baby and bottle while feeding.

In rare circumstances, babies who are breastfed throughout the night over a long time are also at risk. A sweetened pacifier (dummy) can also cause early childhood tooth decay.

The early childhood decay in these toddlers has a typical pattern. It usually is noticed near the gum line of the upper front teeth.

Check for early signs of tooth decay and keep the teeth healthy by avoiding sweetening pacifiers (dummies) or putting babies to bed with bottles.

Occasionally when illness or other disturbance affects growing teeth, the quality of the tooth enamel is poor. Such teeth can decay more easily.

If you feel your baby is showing these signs, please get treatment and help straight away.


What Causes Tooth Decay

There are a number of things that can cause tooth decay:

  • Eating and drinking lots of sugary snacks and sugary drinks such as soft drinks, cakes, lollies and some carbohydrates.
  • Not brushing teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Low availability of fluoride. The level of dental caries in five year old children is approximately 20 -30% lower in areas with fluoridated water.
  • Bacteria transferred from mother or other person's saliva to infant eg feeding spoons, pre-masticating food, kissing on the mouth, cleaning infant's pacifier by putting it in her mouth.
  • The tooth mineral structure of an individual.
  • Medication - Prolonged use of antibiotics inhibits tooth development. Medication such as inhalers can cause dry mouth.

Good Oral Hygiene

Starting good oral health early is important. Starting good habits early are likely to transfer over to good habits throughout life. Click here for more 

Tips for a Healthy Smile for Life


Oral Health Workshops 

We provide Oral Health Workshops for groups interested in learning more about oral health.

For more information please phone 0800 TALK TEETH (0800 825 583)


Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page

HowToBrush1 How to Brush


fruitImage Healthy Eating

Smile Free Regular
Dental Check-ups

ToothBrush&Paste Oral Hygiene


Reference: New Zealand Dental Association. Healthy smile healthy child: information for parents to protect the oral health of preschool children.

Last updated: March 21, 2019