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Teeth TLC

Babies and Children


  • Top Tips

    Top Tips

Establishing a good oral health routine at a young age is very important. The earlier positive habits are formed, the greater the benefit and the more likely they will be continued into later life.

  • Get Brushing

    A child’s teeth start to appear anytime from 6 months onwards. As soon as they do, it’s important to start brushing them every morning after breakfast and before bed. Choose a toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles. If the child is under 2, use just a smear of fluoride toothpaste. If the child is over 2, a pea sized amount should be used. Children’s toothpaste is milder in taste than adult toothpaste but may have a lower level of tooth-strengthening fluoride. You can check this on the side of your toothpaste tube; look for one which has at least 1000ppm. Your dentist or health visitor will also be able to tell you if it provides enough protection for your child’s teeth.

    The Childsmile Core Programme provides every child in Scotland with a dental pack containing a toothbrush, tube of 1000ppm fluoride toothpaste and an information leaflet on at least 6 occasions by the age of 5. Children also receive a free-flow feeder cup by the age of 12 months. For further information about the Childsmile programme, please click here.

    A parent or carer should brush a child’s teeth for them until they are 7 or 8 years old. They should then supervise once the child is doing it for themselves. Why not download one of our toothbrushing diaries or timers to help make brushing more fun?

  • Spit Don’t Rinse

    Children should not swallow toothpaste, but spit it out when they have finished brushing. They should not rinse their mouth out with water afterwards. Rinsing washes away the tooth-strengthening protection in the toothpaste.

  • Take Your Child to the Dentist

    The earlier a child is taken to the dentist the better. Many dentists will see children as soon as their first tooth appears. Waiting until they need treatment could mean that their first experience is not a good one. You may find it helpful to take your child with you on a family dental appointment to sit on your knee. However, this is only helpful if you do not have a fear of the dentist yourself!

    NHS dental services are free for children, either from a family dentist (General Dental Practitioner) or the Community Dental Service. Click here for information on how to find a dentist

  • Avoid Sugary Snacks and Drinks

    Milk and water are the only safe drinks for teeth.

    Don’t add sugar to foods you prepare for your child; sweet foods and drinks encourage a 'sweet tooth’. If you buy ready-prepared foods, read the labels carefully and watch out for sugar content. Sugar can have different names: sucrose, glucose, dextrose, maltose, honey and syrup are just a few. The higher up sugar appears in the list of ingredients, the more of it there is in the food.

    It’s not just the amount of sugar we eat that is a problem, but how often and when we eat it. If you are going to give your child sweet foods and drinks, keep them to mealtimes only. Some healthy snack ideas include fruit and vegetable sticks, oatcakes, toast, crackers, cubes of cheese and breadsticks.

    Introduce your baby to a feeder cup as soon as possible. Try to avoid having your baby drink from a bottle after the age of one year.

    If you give your child fresh or diluting juices, make sure that they are very well diluted – at least 10 parts water to one part juice. Serve these at mealtimes only.

    Never give your child sugary drinks in a bottle or cup to hold onto for long periods of time, for example in their pushchair or at bedtime, as this can quickly decay teeth.

  • Choose Sugar-Free Medicines

    If your child is given a prescription or you are buying medicine over the counter, ask for a sugar-free version if available. If the medicine contains sugar and is to be taken before bedtime, remember to brush your child’s teeth afterwards.