Teeth & Toothbrushing

Toddlers and Young Children's Teeth

Now your child has all of their baby teeth you can help them learn how to look after them well. Until they are about seven or eight you will need to be close by when they are brushing, to be sure they manage this.

Your child needs to learn to clean their teeth well, see the dentist, and eat a healthy diet. If you have a tooth brushing routine as a family, your child is more likely to carry this on as they get older.

Dive Deeper

Habits for Healthy Teeth

Ideally little ones should visit the dentist by aged one – then visit every six months or as advised by your dentist. If your child hasn't visited the dentist yet, then make an appointment as soon as you can. If you do not have an NHS dentist you can find out how to register here.

Regular Brushing

Your child should be brushing their teeth twice a day. Try using star charts to remind and encourage them. You will need to supervise and give your child a hand to brush until they are around seven.

Help your child to;

  • Use a pea sized blob of fluoride toothpaste once they are 3 years old (just a smear is needed before this).
  • Use the ‘spit don’t rinse’ rule. This keeps the fluoride on the teeth as long as possible.
  • Brush for two minutes – you can use timers or play songs to help keep to time. Have a look at the BrushDJ app.

Make sure your child sees their carers taking care of their teeth too. Being a good role model makes a big difference.

Healthy Eating

It is important that children are helped to make tooth friendly choices;

  • As a family try and eat ‘lower sugar’ foods. Visit NHS Healthier Families for information on healthy eating.
  • Drink tap water or milk - using an open cup not a bottle or a beaker with a valve.
  • Always brushing teeth before bed and one other time every day.

Visiting the Dentist

Dentists are very good at giving children a positive appointment experience. It helps if your little one starts going along with you when they are tiny.

There are different people, sounds, and smells at the dentist and some children will worry about this.

If your child is worried let your dentist know. They will be sensitive to how scary some children find their appointments and have techniques to help. If they are not supportive then consider registering with a different practice.

Getting ready for an appointment

You can help your child become confident at visiting the dentist by;

  • Talking positively about what will happen at the dentist – talk about the people, noises and smells. Read stories about the dentist. 
  • ‘Pretending’ to go to the dentist – you or a favourite toy can be the patient!
  • Help your child use relaxation techniques. There are a lot available on the internet – CBBC has some techniques to help. 
  • Plan a treat after the dentist – like a trip to the park or watching a favourite film.

Here are some examples of great books about visiting the dentist to share with your child:

  • Going to the Dentist - Usborne First Experiences
  • Peppa Pig - Dentist Trip

You can find lots more books at your local library.

Your own worries

If you have your own fears about the dentist try not to let your child know. Now might be a good time to get some help with your own anxiety. The NHS Talking Therapies Service Norfolk and Waveney has more information to help. 

For some children and young people the worry can make attending the dentist very difficult. Talk to the dentist or call Just One Number on the contact details below to discuss what you might do next. It is important your child gets the support they need to go to the dentist.

Find out more about visiting the dentist

Top Tips - Parent Video, Brushing Rocco's Teeth

Who Can Help?

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.

To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum below. 

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