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Brushing and flossing children's teeth

As soon as a baby's teeth come through, called erupting, they need to be cleaned.

This can be done gently with a cloth at first before moving on to special baby toothbrushes.

Here are more tips on taking care of your child’s teeth:

  • Take children to the dentist as soon as their first teeth appear. This will get them used to the experience and a lifetime of check-ups - and it is free for children on the NHS.
  • Pick a small, age-appropriate toothbrush designed for babies or children with softer bristles.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste - just a smear for babies and infants and a pea sized blob from 3-6 years old. The NHS says general family toothpaste is OK for children.
  • Teach children to spit out toothpaste after use rather than rinsing. Rinsing washes away the beneficial fluoride.
  • Brush your child's teeth twice a day for 2 minutes at a time. Have a routine, such as in the morning and just before bed.
  • Replace the toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if it shows signs of wear.
  • Don't let children share their toothbrush or lick or suck toothpaste tubes. Don't let them walk around or run with the brush in their mouth to avoid injuries.
  • Children should be helped to brush their teeth or supervised until they are 7 or 8 years old.
  • Ask your dentist for specific advice about extra oral hygiene measures, such as flossing or using mouthwash.
  • Ask your dentist about fluoride varnish or dental fissure sealants. These are thin, plastic protective barriers that fill in the chewing surfaces of the teeth, protecting them from tooth decay. They may be available from some NHS dentists.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on August 04, 2016

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