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Brushing your child’s teeth.

  • Start brushing your children’s teeth as soon as they start erupting.
  • Use a small-headed child’s toothbrush suitable for your child’s age.

The amount of toothpaste also depends on your child’s age:

  • For children under age three, use a smear or thin film of toothpaste that covers less than three-quarters of the brush.
  • For children aged three to six, use no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
  • Under 2 yrs – 1,000ppm, 3 yrs – 6yrs 1,350 – 1,500ppm (fluoride parts per million).

It is important to use fluoride toothpaste as this helps control and prevent tooth decay.

  • Brush for at least two minutes twice a day. Morning and night.
  • Encourage them to spit out the remaining toothpaste but not to rinse out after brushing, as it’s better to leave a coating of fluoride over the teeth.
  • Initially, you will need to help with their brushing by guiding their hand around the mouth until they feel the correct movement. Use a mirror to show them what they are brushing.
  • Brush the inside/outside and bite the surface of each tooth, holding the brush at an angle towards the tooth and gum.
  • 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, check brushing afterwards.

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.

For some children, getting them to brush their own teeth can be a challenge. Some suggestions for making tooth brushing less of a battle can include:

  • Let your child brush your teeth and take it in turns.
  • Try all the family brushing their teeth at the same time.
  • Allow them to choose a toothbrush with their favourite characters/colours. (This will give
    them some feeling of control over the situation)
  • Take a ‘special trip’ to the supermarket to buy a toothbrush. Children love feeling included.
  • Let them brush their own teeth first, then you.
  • Read children’s books about tooth brushing

Taking your child to the dentist

First trip to the dentist:

  • Make sure they brush their teeth before seeing the dentist. Most dental practices have a bathroom they can use, but if they are small, it may be easier to do it at home.
  • Take your child to the dentist when they’re as young as possible and at least once by the time they’re two. This is so they become familiar with the environment and get to know the dentist.
  • The dentist can help to prevent decay and identify any health problems at an early stage.
  • Practice at home, encouraging them to open their mouth wide and look inside to get them used to it before taking them to the dentist. This is useful practice for when they could benefit from future preventive care.
  • When you visit the dentist, be positive about it and make the trip fun. This will stop your child worrying about future visits.
  • Take your child with you when you go for your own dental check-up appointments so they get used to it.


Tooth decay is caused by the amount of sugar in food and drinks and how often teeth are in contact with the sugar. Eating food and drink high in carbohydrates, particularly between meals, will increase your risk of tooth decay.

Tooth decay is often associated with sweet and sticky food and drinks, such as chocolate, sweets, sugar and fizzy drinks. Starchy food, such as crisps, white bread, pretzels and biscuits, also contain high levels of carbohydrates.

Examples of foods that contain sugar:

  • Sweets and chocolate yoghurts, sugary breakfast cereals, and puddings.
  • Sweet sauces and syrups honey pastries, and fruit pies fruit in syrup.
  • Cakes and biscuits ice cream, dried fruit jam.
  • Fruit (natural sugar).

Examples of drinks containing sugar include:

  • Fresh fruit juice such as orange and apple juices / soft drinks such as squashes/cordials and fizzy drinks / milk-based drinks such as
  • Milkshake mixes.

Preventing tooth decay

  • Try cutting down on how often your child has sugary food and drinks and how much sugary food and drinks they consume.
  • Limit sugary foods to mealtimes.
  • Drinks containing sugars, including natural fruit juices, should be avoided between meals. Even squashes that have ‘No Added Sugar’ on still have natural sugars or sweeteners in them.
  • Water or milk is always the best.
  • For babies, don’t add sugar to their weaning foods when you introduce them to solids.
  • If your child needs medicine, ask your pharmacist or GP if a sugar-free version is available.
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important too. As well as preventing tooth decay, this will help you to stay healthy.


Most babies start teething at around six months. However, all babies are different, and the timing of teething varies. Some babies are born with their first teeth. Others start teething before they are four months old, and some after 12 months. Early teething should not cause a child any problems unless it affects their feeding.


Some teeth erupt with no pain or discomfort, but others can cause the gum to be red and swollen, and occasionally, a cheek may be flushed. Your baby may be irritable, dribble and chew a lot.

Teething tips

Teething rings can provide a distraction to their pain and ease their discomfort. Some teethers can be cooled in the fridge to help soothe their gums, but always check with the manufacturer’s guidelines beforehand.

For babies over four months, you can use sugar-free teething gel; teething gels often contain a mild local anaesthetic, which helps to numb any pain or discomfort caused by teething. The gels may also contain antiseptic ingredients, which help to prevent infection in any sore or broken skin in your baby’s mouth.

It’s always best to give healthy foods for your baby to chew on, such as raw vegetables and fruit (e.g. carrots/apples). Make sure you always supervise your child when they are eating to avoid choking.

Suppose your baby is in pain or has a raised temperature. In that case, you may want to give them a painkilling medicine that has been specifically designed for children, such as a sugar-free paracetamol or ibuprofen suspension. Always follow the dosage instructions on the packaging.

Cool sugar-free drinks will help soothe their gums; the best option is cool water. Comforting and playing with your baby will help distract them from any pain/discomfort.


It is advised that at the age of about 6 months, you introduce a cup/beaker rather than a bottle. Using an open cup or a free-flow cup without a valve will help your baby learn to sip rather than suck, which is better for their teeth.

If you use a bottle or trainer cup, don’t put anything in it other than infant formula, breast milk or water.

It’s important to choose the right kind of beaker/cup. A beaker with a free-flow lid (without a non-spill valve) is better than a bottle or beaker with a teat. Drinks flow very slowly through a teat, which means that children spend a lot of time with the teat in their mouth. As soon as your child is ready, encourage them to move from a lidded beaker to drinking from a cup.


Breast milk/ formula can be used up to the time cow milk can be introduced normally after 1yrs old.

Water – (boiled for under 6 months)

Fruit juices, such as orange juice or grapefruit juice, are a good source of vitamin C. However, they also contain natural sugars and acids, which can cause tooth decay.

Babies under six months old shouldn’t be given fruit juices.

Diluted fruit juice (one part juice to 10 parts water) can be given to children with their meals after six months. Giving it at mealtimes can help prevent tooth decay.

Squashes, flavoured milk, fruit drinks and sugary fizzy drinks are not suitable for young babies. These drinks contain sugar and can cause tooth decay even when diluted.

Even drinks that have artificial sweeteners can encourage children to develop a sweet tooth.

If you want to give your child squashes, flavoured milk and juice drinks, keep them for mealtimes, make sure they’re well diluted and always give them in a feeder cup rather than a bottle.

Fizzy drinks are acidic and can damage tooth enamel, so they shouldn’t be given to babies and toddlers.

Diet or reduced-sugar drinks aren’t recommended for babies and toddlers. If you do give your child concentrated drinks containing saccharin (a type of sweetener), dilute them well (at least 10 parts water to one part sweetened drink).

Eruption of deciduous teeth (first/baby teeth)

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