Looking After Your Child's Teeth

From Term 1 2017, Victorian government and Catholic schools will use the new Victorian Curriculum F-10. Curriculum related information is currently being reviewed and may be subject to change.

For more information on the curriculum, see:
The Victorian Curriculum F–10 - VCAA

Main points:

  • Your child will start losing their baby teeth from around the time they turn six.
  • Showing your child how to care for their teeth helps them develop good oral hygiene habits for life.
  • Your child should visit a dentist regularly.

What you can do

By now, your child is probably already brushing their own teeth, though they may still need your help. Teaching them how to brush their teeth and supervising their teeth-brushing routine may continue until your child is around eight years old.

When your child’s adult teeth start coming through, you should:

  • continue giving your child healthy foods to eat. A healthy diet is as important as correctly brushing your child’s teeth and keeping them clean
  • maintain your child’s teeth-brushing routine. They should brush their teeth every morning and every night, being gentle or careful around any loose baby tooth
  • allow the loose baby tooth to fall out on its own. If you try and pull a baby tooth before its ready to fall out it can snap and this can lead to infection.

Celebrating each time a baby tooth falls out is a great way of reassuring your child that it’s a normal part of life. By the time they are 12 years old they should have all their adult teeth, except for their wisdom teeth which usually come up in their early to mid-20s.

Keeping your child’s teeth clean

  • Use a child’s toothbrush that has soft bristles of different heights.
  • Encourage your child to brush their teeth while looking into a mirror so they can see what they are doing.
  • Encourage your child to angle the toothbrush towards their gums, moving it in gentle circles.

For more information, see:

Dental checks

Your child can receive professional dental care either from your family dentist or through Victoria’s public oral health service. All children under 12 years old are eligible for this service which provides check-ups, advice and treatments from community-based dental clinics.

See: Dental Health Services Victoria – for more information about this service, or telephone 1300 360 054 to find a clinic location near you.

Thumb or finger sucking

While most children stop sucking their thumb or fingers by the time they are four years old, some continue well beyond this age. If your child continues to suck their thumb or fingers once their adult teeth show, permanent dental problems can occur. There are several things you can do to encourage and support your child to stop thumb sucking. See: Better Health Channel’s Dental care - thumb sucking

Teeth-grinding

Teeth-grinding is pretty common for children in Prep. Some children clench their jaws quite firmly; in other children you may hear them grinding their teeth. Your child may grind their teeth while they sleep. Most teeth-grinding doesn’t last and it doesn’t cause your child’s teeth any damage. But if it continues, you should talk to your family dentist or doctor, especially if your child is experiencing headaches, tooth or jaw pain, or if your child’s teeth are wearing down as a result of their teeth-grinding.

Injuries

If your child hurts their teeth or face while running, climbing, riding a scooter and a bike, or just playing, it is a good idea to see a doctor or dentist.

If your child knocks out a baby tooth, don’t try to put it back. Losing a baby tooth before it’s ready to come out isn’t serious, though you should visit your family dentist for a check-up.

It’s a bit more serious if your child loses an adult tooth; however, there is every chance that the tooth will survive if it’s immediately placed back into the socket and medical advice is sought. Every minute the tooth is out of its socket, the less chance it has of surviving.

If your child plays organised sport it is a good idea to purchase a mouth guard to prevent their teeth from being damaged, particularly if they have their adult teeth. Fit-at-home mouth guards can be purchased from your local pharmacy or can be personally fitted by your family dentist.

If your child chips or knocks out an adult tooth, store it in milk and see your family dentist immediately. See: Better Health Channel’s Dental care - tips if teeth are knocked out
Related Links

  • Australian Dental Association – encouraging the improvement of everyone’s oral and general health, includes ‘find a dentist’ to help you find a dentist in your location
  • Dental Health Services Victoria’s Dental advice for children - it is important that your child adopts good oral hygiene habits early in life
  • Raising Children Network’s Dental care for school-age children – you can develop strong healthy teeth by making sure your child brushes their teeth twice a day
  • Better Health Channel’s Dental treatment - overview – Dentists can provide many dental and oral health treatments to prevent tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss.
​​