Children's teeth

From brushing their first tooth?to?their first trip to the dentist, here's how?to take care of your children's teeth.

A regular teeth-cleaning routine is essential for good dental health. Follow these tips and you can help keep your kids' teeth decay-free:??

Toothpaste tips?

  • Start brushing your baby's teeth with fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first milk tooth breaks through (usually at around six months, but it can be earlier or later). It's important to use a fluoride paste, as?this helps to prevent and control tooth decay.?
  • There's no need to buy special "children's toothpaste" brands. In fact, some of them?donft have enough fluoride in them to help prevent tooth decay.?
  • Children of all ages?can use?family toothpaste, as long as it contains 1,350-1,500 parts per million (ppm) fluoride. Check the toothpaste packet if you're not sure, or ask your dentist.
  • Children under the age of six who don't have tooth decay?can use?a lower-strength?toothpaste, but make sure it contains at least 1,000ppm fluoride.?
  • Make sure?children don't eat or lick toothpaste from the tube.??
  • Below the age of three years, children should use just a smear of toothpaste.
  • Children aged three to six should use a pea-sized blob of toothpaste.??

Toothbrushing tips

  • Brush your child's teeth for about two minutes twice a day: once just before bedtime and at least one other time during the day.
  • Encourage?them to spit out excess toothpaste, but not to rinse with lots of water. Rinsing with water after tooth brushing will wash away?the fluoride and make it less effective.
  • 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, by watching how they do it. 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?about two minutes.

How to help children?brush their teeth?properly

  • Guide your child's hand so they can feel the correct movement.
  • Use a mirror to help your child see exactly where the brush is cleaning their teeth.
  • Make tooth brushing as fun as possible by using an egg timer to time it for about two minutes.
  • Don't let children run around with a toothbrush in their mouth, as they may have an accident and hurt themselves.

Taking your child to the dentist

  • NHS dental care for children is free.
  • Take your child to the dentist when their first milk teeth appear. This is so they become familiar with the environment and get to know the dentist. The dentist can help prevent decay and identify any oral health problems at an early stage. Just opening up the child's mouth for the dentist to take a look at is useful practise for the future.?
  • 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 for regular dental check-ups as advised by the dentist.?

Find your nearest dentist.

Fluoride varnish and fissure sealants

  • Fissure sealants can be done?once your child's permanent back?teeth have started to come through (usually at the age of about six or seven) to protect them from decay. This?is where the chewing surfaces of the back teeth?are covered with a special thin plastic coating to keep germs and food particles out of the grooves. The sealant can last for as long as 5 to 10 years.
  • Fluoride varnish can be applied to both baby teeth and adult teeth. It?involves?painting a varnish that contains high levels?of fluoride on to the surface of the tooth every six months to prevent decay. It works by strengthening tooth enamel, making it more resistant to decay.
  • From the age of three, children should be offered fluoride varnish application at least twice a year. Younger children may also be offered this treatment?if your dentist thinks they need it.

Ask your dentist?about fluoride varnish or fissure sealing.

Read more tips on how to look after your children's teeth.

Page last reviewed: 25/11/2015

Next review due: 25/11/2017

Ratings

How helpful is this page?

Average rating

Based on 89 ratings

All ratings

Add your rating

Find dental services near you

Looking after your baby's teeth

Advice on when to start brushing your baby's teeth, plus advice on giving them a tooth-friendly diet

Baby teething symptoms

How to spot when your baby is teething, what order teeth appear in and how to make teething easier

Braces

Find out how braces can improve your smile, plus how to get treatment on the NHS

Sweets, fizzy drinks and bottles

10 tips for parents on keeping kids' teeth healthy, including cutting out sugary drinks and snacks

Dental health

How to care for your teeth, including check-ups, brushing, braces and whitening