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It's important to keep your child's teeth clean and healthy.

It’s really important to keep your child’s teeth clean and healthy but it can be tricky if your child doesn’t enjoy having their teeth brushed. Here are some tips on when and how to brush your child’s teeth.

Tooth brushing with fluoride toothpaste helps to prevent tooth decay and keep gums healthy. Tooth decay is mainly caused by sugary food and drinks. There’s some tips on mealtimes and healthy eating on our mealtimes page.

When should I start tooth brushing?

  • Start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as they come through. The first baby tooth usually comes through at about 6 months but it may be some months later. 

  • Take your child to the dentist by the age of 1 – the dental team can give you help and advice on keeping teeth healthy.

How should I do it?

Choose a brush with a small head and soft bristles.

  • Choose a brush with a small head and soft bristles.

  • Brush twice a day – in the morning and always before bed

  • For children 6 months to 3 years - Use a thin smear of family fluoride  toothpaste with 1350 or 1450  parts per million (ppm) of fluoride (shown on the toothpaste pack).

For children over 3 years - use a pea-sized amount of “family” toothpaste with 1350 to 1500 ppm fluoride.

You will need to supervise your child’s tooth brushing until they are at least 7 years old. Never leave a child alone with a toothbrush – they may trip and hurt their mouth – and don’t let your child eat toothpaste.

  • Never share tooth brushes – make sure everyone has their own toothbrush

Brushing your child’s teeth

  • Sit your child on your lap with their head resting on your elbow – you can support the head and see the teeth.

  • Clean the teeth gently one section at a time – don’t forget the back teeth.

  • Wipe away excess toothpaste. Older children can spit out excess toothpaste, but don't rinse with water. This washes away the toothpaste and stops it from working really well.

What can I do if my child won’t allow me to brush their teeth?

  • Let your child see you brushing your teeth. Young children love to copy.

  • Make a game of it – brush your teeth and then let your child brush your teeth. Then you brush your child’s teeth.

  • Use a mirror and clean their teeth from behind so they can watch what you are doing.

  • Make brushing part of the bedtime routine. If your child is tired after a bath try brushing before bathing or even during bathing.

  • Let your child choose their own toothbrush, but make sure it’s suitable for children

  • If using a toothbrush is difficult, try using a smear of toothpaste on a clean dry flannel wrapped around your finger. You can move onto a toothbrush when your child is more confident.

  • Using sounds can make tooth brushing fun. Ask your child to make ‘teee’ sounds when you clean their front teeth, and ‘ahhh’ sounds for the back teeth.

  • Singing can also help. Let them choose a song for you to sing when they brush. You may also like to use a tooth brush timer which helps children to see they are brushing their teeth for long enough to get them clean (about 1 to 2 minutes). Tooth brush timers are available with colourful characters to make it more fun.

  • Books about tooth brushing and visiting the dentist are available and videos of other children brushing can be found on the internet.  

If you’re still having problems, talk to your health visitor or see your dentist.

You can read more about tooth brushing and how to keep your child’s teeth healthy at Designed to Smile (External link).