Keeping children’s teeth healthy
Looking after your child’s teeth
Good dental care habits started early are the key to keeping your child’s teeth healthy for the rest of their life. Encourage your child to take good care of his or her teeth from an early age.
Toothbrushing should begin as soon as the first teeth appear. Soft baby toothbrushes are available. Sit your baby on your lap, facing outwards, when brushing their teeth. Try to sit in front of a mirror so your child can see what is happening. Use a small, pea-sized, amount of toothpaste. Allow your child to spit the toothpaste out after brushing. Do not rinse.
Children can be allowed to brush their own teeth, with adult supervision, from the age of two. Reward children – but not with sweets! – for brushing well. If good brushing habits have been formed, they can brush their teeth without supervision from the age of seven onwards. Flossing is not recommended until a child has all their permanent teeth. This is usually around the age of 12.
It is natural for children to have a ‘sweet tooth’ but sugary snacks should be kept to a minimum. Restricting sweets and cakes to mealtimes helps to reduce the teeth’s exposure to sugar. For children over the age of 6, chewing sugarfree gum after meals is recommeneded, as it stimulates the production of saliva. Saliva helps to neutralise plaque acid and prevent tooth decay.
Fizzy frinks and acidic fruit juices can erode the enamel of your child’s teeth and should be avoided. Milk and water are the safest drinks for teeth. Sweet drinks and frui juices should not be used in a baby or toddler’s feeding bottle, as this prolongs the exposure of the teeth to the sugary substances.