Children’s teeth | Oral Health Foundation


Should I use toothpaste that contains fluoride?

Your teeth can receive fluoride in a number of ways, including through toothpaste, special fluoride treatments, and possibly the drinking water in your area. All of these can help prevent tooth decay.

If you’re not sure how much fluoride you need in your toothpaste, ask your dental team.

All children up to three years of age should use a toothpaste with a fluoride content of at least 1000 ppm (parts per million). After three years, they should use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste that contains 1350ppm to 1500ppm.

You can check the fluoride content on the toothpaste packaging. Children should be supervised while they are brushing their teeth until they are 7 years old. You should make sure that you do not rinse the toothpaste but spit it out and if possible not swallow it. This way the fluoride stays in the mouth longer and becomes more effective.

Which brush should children use?

There are many different types of children’s toothbrushes, including brightly colored brushes, some with color changing, some with favorite characters on the handle, and some with timers. All of this encourages children to brush their teeth. Most importantly, using a small headed toothbrush with soft nylon bristles that is suitable for your child’s age.

Using an electric toothbrush suitable for your child’s age can help make brushing their teeth fun and your child brushing the right time.

What can cause a toothache in my child?

Toothache is painful and bothersome, especially in children, and the main cause is tooth decay. This is due to too much sugar in the diet too often.

Teething is another problem. It starts at around 6 months and can continue as the adult teeth appear. If your child needs pain relief, make sure you choose a sugar-free medicine. If the pain persists, contact your dental team to make an appointment. Remember to check with your doctor or pharmacist at any time to see if you are being prescribed sugar-free medicines.

How can I prevent tooth decay in my child?

The main cause of tooth decay is not the amount of sugar or acid in food, but how often it is eaten or drunk. The more your child eats sugary or acidic foods or drinks, the more likely they are to develop tooth decay. It is therefore important to only eat sugary and acidic foods with meals. If you want to give your child a snack, try sticking with cheese, vegetables, and fruits. Try to limit the amount of dried fruits you give as they are high in sugar.

Do not give them sugary drinks, including fruit juices, between meals. Instead, give them water or milk. For babies, do not add sugar to their beverages or foods when they are eating solid foods.

It’s also worth noting that some processed baby foods are quite high in sugar. Try checking the list of ingredients: the higher up the list, the more sugar is in the product. In general, anything that ends with “ose” is a sugar, for example: fructose, glucose, lactose, or sucrose. Thoroughly brushing your teeth with a toothpaste containing fluoride in the evening and at least one more time a day helps 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 make your child feel that a visit to the dental team is a cause for concern. Try to support if your child needs dental treatment. If you have your own fears about going to the dentist, don’t let your child talk about it.

Regular visits to the dental team are essential to help your child get used to the environment and what is happening there. A child can be much more anxious when it’s their first visit to a dentist’s office. Pain and suffering can occur at any time and it is important to prepare your child for it through regular visits.


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Do you need further advice?

For free and impartial advice about your oral health, turn to ours Dental hotline by email or by phone on 01788 539780 (UK local rate).

Our Dental Helpline is completely confidential and has helped nearly 400,000 people since it opened over 20 years ago. Contact our experts by phone, email or online request, Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.


Many thanks to Oral-B for kindly giving us a Educational grant for this information. Oral-B’s support not only enables us to develop and maintain this advice online, but also means that we can continue to offer itital resource as a printed leaflet for dental practices and hospitals to be given to patients and to be placed in waiting areas.



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