Looking after your child's teeth
Five tips for a healthy smile
When to start brushing teeth
As soon as your child has teeth, they should be brushed regularly. Regular brushing helps prevent decay and gum disease. It's best to get your child into the habit of brushing twice a day, after breakfast and before bed.
When your child can control a pencil and write they can brush their own teeth. You’ll need to supervise brushing until your child is about eight years old.
It can be difficult to brush your toddler’s teeth, but keep trying because healthy teeth are important to your child’s development and for the future health of their permanent teeth. You may find it easier to stand behind your child and gently tilt their head back as you brush.
How to brush teeth
Brush all around the inside surfaces, where teeth meet gums, and also the top chewing surfaces. On the front of the teeth, use tiny circles all around the outside surfaces, close to the gums.
Use just a smear of fluoride toothpaste on a small, soft toothbrush if your child is under six years and a pea-sized amount if your child is six years and over.
Spit, don’t rinse
Remember to teach your child to spit out after tooth brushing. Do not rinse with water, because a small amount of fluoride toothpaste left around the teeth will help protect them.
Flossing cleans away plaque and bits of food from between your teeth and below the gum line. It gets to places your brush can’t reach. A child should start flossing when two teeth touch. This usually happens when the first back teeth appear. To begin with, you will have to floss your child’s teeth, but they will eventually learn to do it for themselves. Floss once a day.
Gently lift your child’s top lip once a month to check inside their mouth. It’s a quick and easy way to see whether decay is present in its early, treatable stages. Look for white spots at the gumline, particularly on the upper front teeth. Also look for discoloured areas or pieces of missing teeth.
Check that gums look healthy, not puffy or bleeding. Visit your dental professional if you have any concerns.