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Dental Health

Teaching Your Child How To Brush Their Teeth

Maintaining healthy teeth is important for your child’s health. As your child grows and becomes more independent, they will begin to take responsibility for their own dental care. Here are some helpful tips to encourage them to look after their teeth.

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  • Children should have help from a parent or carer when brushing their teeth, until they are able to do it well enough for themselves. This will normally be up until they are at least 7 years old.
  • To teach them how to brush their teeth, guide their hand so they can feel the correct movement.
  • For younger children you might want to sit them on your knee to help with this. Or if they are older, stand behind them and tilt their head backwards.
  • Use a mirror to help your child see inside their mouth and where the brush is cleaning.
  • Make teeth cleaning as fun as possible by using an egg timer or a free tooth brushing timer app. Check the app store on your device for options.
  • Brush teeth using a pea sized amount of fluoride* toothpaste.
  • Teeth should be brushed for around 2 minutes.
  • Always brush teeth last thing before bed and on at least one other occasion.
  • Spit out after brushing and don’t rinse. If you rinse, the fluoride won’t work as well.

*Children aged 3-7 years: Use children’s fluoride toothpaste containing no less than 1,000ppm of fluoride or family toothpaste containing between 1,350ppm and 1,500ppm.

Children aged 7+ years: Use fluoride toothpaste containing between 1,350ppm and 1,500ppm of fluoride. Always check the label.

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Eating and drinking
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It is always advisable to wait 30 minutes to brush teeth following consumption of food or drink including protein substitutes. However, if this is not possible, encourage your child to rinse their mouth with water.

If your child’s protein substitute is consumed as part of a balanced diet and at regular mealtimes and good dental hygiene is practiced, you will not need to take any extra measures to protect your child’s teeth.

The best snacks to give children for good dental health are raw vegetables and fruits. Some examples include cucumber, tangerines, banana and carrot sticks. Have a look at the NSPKU dietary information booklet and talk to your dietitian for more ideas.

Most children enjoy sweets, but make sure they only have a small amount occasionally.

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Visiting The Dentist
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  • Make sure you are taking your child to the dentist for routine check-ups. NHS dental care for children is free in the UK.
  • The whole family can attend the dentist together. Make it a fun outing and let them see you having your teeth checked. This will show them that they have nothing to be worried about.
  • If your child is showing severe signs of distress about attending the dentist, some dental practices will have a dentist who specialises in dealing with this.
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Losing milk teeth
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Your child will begin to lose their baby teeth, also called milk teeth, at some time around the age of 5 or 6 years of age. This is to make room for their adult teeth. Ensuring they have well established dental hygiene routines will help pave the way for healthy adult teeth.  

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  • Some children may need more encouragement than others to brush their teeth. You could try using a rewards chart with a non-food related reward.
  • Teeth do not need to be cleaned in the bathroom; keeping a toothbrush in the kitchen so they can be done before rushing out in the morning might be helpful.
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