Take your child to the dentist regularly
All children should see a dentist as soon as their first teeth come through (usually at about 6 months old).
Their dentist will advise you how regular their check-ups should be. The most children go every 6 months.
Visiting the dentist regularly can help keep children’s teeth healthy. All NHS dental treatment for children under 18 is free if it is needed. Find a dentist near you on NHS Choices.
Childsmile has lots of information about looking after your child’s teeth, including dummies and fluoride varnish.
You can also find a lot of advice about how to encourage babies and children to look after their teeth on the teeth.tlc website.
Help your child to brush their teeth
- Start brushing as soon their first tooth comes through.
- You need to help them brush until they are at least 7.
- Brush twice a day for at least two minutes. There are apps that can help you time this (see brush DJ)
- Brushing before bed time is the most important.
- After brushing children ideally should be encouraged to only spit the toothpaste out and not rinse. Rinsing washes the fluoride in the toothpaste away and it needs to stay on the teeth for as long as possible to help protect them.
- Brushes should be changed every 2-3 months.
- Always use a toothpaste with fluoride. Check the label to make sure if it is suitable for your child’s age. If your child is under two just use a smear of toothpaste. If they’re older use a pea sized amount.
Make sure your child avoids too much sugar
- Don’t add sugar to weaning foods.
- Give them milk and water to drink.
- Limit sugary food and drinks to mealtimes.
- Don’t let them eat sugar more than four times per day.
- If your child is older than 6 months old, try to get them to drink from an open cup. If they are over 12 months old try to make sure they have stopped using a bottle.
- Don’t let your child sleep with a bottle of milk overnight as this can cause decay.
What to do if your child knocks out their tooth?
- Get them to a dentist straight away (within 2 hours)
- Do not touch the root, and keep the tooth in milk or in the child’s cheek
- If you can’t find a dentist call NHS 111 immediately and they will be able to tell you the nearest A&E that can help.
- You should also get them straight to a dentist if they have broken a tooth.
- Make sure they wear a mouthguard when they play any contact sport.
More advice for parents
Childsmile also have a great video called 'What's happening to our children's teeth':
This video was made for Childsmile programme in Scotland. Childsmile is reducing inequalities in oral health and ensuring access to dental services for every child across Scotland.
Thanks to Sarah Kaddour BDS MJDF at Health Education England for helping us write this page.
Next update due: June 2017