Looking after your child's teeth

A growing child needs teeth to smile and eat with, and to given them confidence. Establishing a good oral care routine from early childhood is important and can be supported by parents and carers.

  • Brush teeth twice a day with a soft toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles. Add a smear of 1000ppm fluoride toothpaste – fluoride helps to strengthen the teeth and prevent tooth decay. If you are not certain, ask your health visitor. For children under two years of age use a smear of fluoride toothpaste and for older children use a pea sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
  • Don’t rinse their mouth with water – just let them spit out toothpaste residue so they keep fluoride in their mouth.
  • Let your child see all the family brushing their time so it becomes a routine daily activity. You might find that a good time for toothbrushing is playtime or bathtime.
  • To protect your baby’s teeth, it’s important to choose foods without added sugar, sugar is the main cause of tooth decay, so don’t give your baby sugary snacks, especially between meals. The safest drinks for our baby’s teeth are milk and water.
  • Supervise the brushing yourself until your child is at least 7 years old.
  • Replace toothbrushes frequently
  • Both you and your child should visit the dentist regularly as advised

All NHS dental treatment is free in Scotland for all children up and including 17 years. Contact your local NHS board for NHS dentists in your areas and for more information on the Childsmile programme.

Introducing Childsmile

Childsmile is a dental programme designed to support you in giving your child’s teeth the best possible start. Every child receives oral health packs, free-flowing drinking cups and daily supervised nursery toothbrushing. A variety of initiatives may be available in your area, including:

  • Access to Childsmile dental services for advice to support you in keeping your baby’s teeth healthy
  • Community oral health activities
Last updated: 30 July 2013
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