Oral health

Tooth decay, also known as dental caries, is preventable. Tooth brushing and healthy eating will keep teeth and gums healthy. Here are some top tips for a healthy mouth.

Top tooth brushing tips

  • Start brushing your child's teeth as soon as the first tooth comes through
  • Brush your child's teeth twice a day, once before bed and once at any other time that suits your family routine.
    For maximum protection use toothpaste that contains 1350 to 1500ppm fluoride (look at the ingredients on the back of the toothpaste pack to check its fluoride content)
  • Don't let your child eat or lick toothpaste
  • Make 'last thing at night before bed' one of the times when you brush
  • Children less than 3 years should use no more than a smear of toothpaste 
  • Children aged 3-6 years should use no more than a pea sized blob of toothpaste 
  • After brushing, encourage your child to 'spit out and not rinse'
  • Children need to be helped to brush and supervised by an adult whilst brushing until they are at least 7 years old
  • Reduce the amount and frequency of consumption of sugary foods and drinks, you can do this by limiting consumption to meal times.

Image of toothbrush with smear of toothpaste suitable for child under 3 yearsSmear of toothpaste suitable for a child under three years old

Image of pea sized blob of toothpaste suitable for child 3 years plusPea-sized blob of toothpaste suitable for a child over three years old

Other tips for a healthy mouth

  • Limit how much and how often your children eat or drink sugary foods and drinks - make it okay only to have these at meal times.
  • Offer your child a small piece of cheese, rice cake or breadsticks as a snack, instead of dried fruit and make water and milk the preferred drink options.
  • Register your child with a NHS dentist from the age of 6 months, or when the first tooth has come through - dental checks are free for all children under 16.
  • Ask if a sugar-free medicine is available and remind your doctor about this if you're being given a prescription for your child.
  • Begin moving your child off the bottle and on to a free-flow feeder cup at six months. Try to get them off bottles completely by the age of one. Visit the NHS Choice website to find out more about cups for children.

Don't forget!

  • NHS dental care for children under 16 years is free.
  • Take your child to the dentist when their first milk teeth appear.
  • Be positive about their trip to the dentist and make it fun.
  • Take your child for regular checks up as advised by your dentist.
  • To find a dentist search the NHS Choices website for 'find dentists services'

To find out more tips on how to look after your children's teeth visit the NHS Choices website.