Child in dental chair

When should a child see a dentist?

  • An infant should start seeing a dentist soon after their first teeth erupt (roughly six months)
  • Dentists will advise on how regular check-ups should be. The majority of children are seen 6 monthly but this can vary depending on the needs of the child.
  • Visiting the dentist regularly can help keep children’s teeth healthy. All NHS dental treatment for children under 18 in England is free if it is needed.

How do I find a dentist?

  • NHS Choices will have lists of available dentists in your area
  • Speak with family and friends for their recommendations

Tooth brushing

  • Brush twice a day for at least two minutes
  • 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

Which toothpaste?

  • Always use a fluoridated toothpaste. The amount of fluoride you need depends on the age of your child. Please read the labels.
    • Children 0-3 years: No less than 1000 ppm (parts per million of fluoride, found on the back of the toothpaste)
    • Children 3-6: 1000ppm +
    • Children 7 years and above: 1350-1500ppm

Helping your child to brush their teeth

baby brushing teeth

  • Start brushing when the first tooth appears.
  • Children need supervising and help with their brushing until they are at least they are seven years old.
  • Brush DJ can make brushing fun
  • Brush twice a day for at least two minutes.
  • The most important time to brush is just before bedtime and ideally do not eat/drink after this.
  • Wait 30 minutes after eating before brushing.
  • If your child is under two just use a smear of toothpaste. If they’re older use a pea sized amount.

Diet and decay

  • Too much sugar is not good for our general health and our teeth!
  • From six months of age infants should be introduced to drinking from an open cup
  • Babies over 12 months old should be discouraged from feeding from a bottle
  • Sugar should not be added to weaning foods
  • Fizzy drinks are one of the best causes of tooth decay. Even diet fizzy drinks will cause erosion and tooth wear. Milk and water are best
  • Sugary food and drinks should be limited to mealtimes
  • Sugars should not be consumed more than four times per day
  • Always ask your doctor for sugar free medicines if possible
  • From six months of age infants should be introduced to drinking from an open cup
  • Infants over 12 months old should be discouraged from feeding from a bottle
  • Children should not sleep with a bottle of milk overnight – this can cause decay

What happens if a child knocks their tooth out or breaks it?

  • If a child has knocked their tooth out they must see a dentist within 2 hours.
  • Do not touch the root, and keep the tooth in milk or in the child’s cheek
  • If you are unable to find a dentist call NHS 111 immediately. They can let you know where the appropriate A&E is with a dental team (sometimes these are called maxilla-facial teams).
  • Any broken teeth should be assessed by a dentist as soon as possible
  • Wear a mouthguard when playing contact sports to prevent injury
  • Find more information on dental trauma.

Further information on children’s oral health including other topics such as dummies, fluoride varnish: