Children's Teeth

When should I take my child to the dentist?

It is recommended that children go to the dentist regularly with their parents as soon as possible. Normally we recommend from 3 years old, but you can bring them earlier if you want to. This will let them get used to the noises, smells and surroundings and prepare them for future visits. The earlier these visits begin, the more relaxed your child will be.

How should I clean my child's teeth?

Cleaning your child's teeth should be part of their daily hygiene routine.

  1. You may find it easier to stand or sit behind your child, cradling their chin in your hand so you can reach their top and bottom teeth more easily.
  2. When the first teeth start to come through, try using a children's toothbrush with some toothpaste, the size of a small pea.
  3. It is important to supervise your child's brushing until they are at least seven. This is to ensure sure they spit out the toothpaste and don't swallow any.
  4. Once all the teeth have come through, use a small-headed soft toothbrush in small circular movements and try to concentrate on one section at a time.
  5. Don't forget to brush gently behind the teeth and onto the gums.
  6. If possible make tooth brushing a routine. In the morning and then last thing at night before your child goes to bed.
  7. Remember to encourage your child, as praise will often get results!

Should I use fluoride toothpaste?

Fluoride comes from a number of different sources including toothpaste, specific fluoride applications and perhaps the drinking water in your area. These can all help to prevent tooth decay. If you are unsure about using fluoride toothpaste ask your dentist, health visitor or health authority.

All children up to three years old should use a toothpaste with a fluoride level of at least 1000ppm (parts per million). After three years old, they should use a toothpaste that contains 1350ppm to 1500ppm. To check the level of fluoride, look at the toothpaste packaging.

What sort of brush should children use?

There are many different types of children's toothbrushes. These include brightly coloured brushes, ones that change colour, ones with favourite characters on the handle, and some with a timer. These all encourage children to brush their teeth. The most important point is to use a small-headed toothbrush with soft, nylon bristles, suitable for the age of your child.

How can I prevent tooth decay in my child?

  1. The main cause of tooth decay is not the amount of sugar and acid in the diet, but how often it is eaten or drunk. The more often it is consumed, the more likely they are to have decay. It is therefore important to keep sugar/acidic foods to mealtimes only. If you want to give your child a snack, try to stick to vegetables, fruit and cheese and try to limit dried fruit as it is high in sugar and can stick to the teeth.
  2. Remember that some processed baby foods contain quite a lot of sugar. Try checking the list of ingredients: the higher up the list sugar is, the more there is in the product. Sometimes, on labels, sugar is called fructose, glucose, lactose or sucrose.
  3. Thorough brushing for two minutes, twice a day, particularly last thing at night, will help to prevent tooth decay.

What if my child is very nervous about going to the dentist?

Children can sense fear in their parents, so it is important not to let your child feel that a visit to the dentist is something to be worried about. Try to be supportive if your child needs to have any dental treatment.

Regular visits to the dentist are essential in helping your child to get used to the Dental Practice and what goes on there. A child can be much more anxious if it is their first visit there. Pain and distress can happen at any time and it is important to prepare your child with regular visits.

Fissure sealants

Sealants are a safe and painless way of protecting your teeth from decay. A sealant is a protective plastic coating, which is applied to the biting surfaces of the back teeth. The sealant forms a hard shield that stops food and bacteria getting into the tiny grooves in the teeth and causing decay. It is totally pain free and the teeth do not feel any different afterward.

How do sealants work?

The sealant forms a smooth, protective barrier by covering all the little grooves and dips (pits and fissures) in the surface of the tooth. Dental decay easily starts in these grooves.
The Sealants are only applied to the back teeth ie the molars and premolars. These are the teeth that have pits and fissures on their biting surfaces. Your dentist will tell you which teeth should be sealed after examining them, and checking whether the fissures are deep enough for sealing to help. Some teeth naturally form with deep grooves which can be sealed, others form with shallow ones which may not need sealing. Once applied, Sealants can last for many years, however your dentist will want to check them regularly to make sure that the seal is still intact. They can wear over time, and sometimes the dentist needs to add or replace some sealant to make sure that no decay can start underneath.

When should this be done?

Sealants are often applied as soon as the adult teeth start to come through. This is usually between 6 and 7 years of age. The rest are usually sealed as soon as they appear, which can be any time between 11 and 14.

What is involved?

Sealing is usually quick and straightforward, taking only a few minutes for each tooth. The tooth is thoroughly cleaned, prepared with a special solution, and then dried. The liquid sealant is then put onto the tooth and allowed to set hard - usually by shining a bright light onto it.


Do I still have to clean my teeth?

It is still important that your child cleans their teeth, however the smooth, sealed surface is now much easier to keep clean and healthy with normal tooth brushing. Using a fluoride toothpaste will also help to protect your teeth.

Pit and fissure sealing reduces tooth decay and the number of fillings you might need.