Brushing teeth and oral health

By the time they’re three, your child will normally have all their baby teeth (that’s 20 teeth).

Baby teeth need to be cared for even though they’ll eventually get adult teeth, because dental problems can get out of hand even at a young age.

As soon as teeth appear (usually between six and ten months but not always), you should start cleaning your toddler’s teeth.

Brushing your toddler's teeth

  • Use a soft, small child’s toothbrush.
  • Under 18 months, don’t use toothpaste.
  • From 18 months to six years, use a pea-sized amount of low-fluoride toothpaste.
  • From six years, use a pea-sized amount of standard fluoride toothpaste.

Brushing your preschooler's teeth

  • Use a soft, small child’s toothbrush.
  • Use a pea-sized amount of low-fluoride toothpaste.
  • Get your child to spit out any leftover toothpaste, but don’t rinse out the mouth (children’s toothpaste is designed for this).
  • Rinse the toothbrush, and put it somewhere clean to dry.

Dental checks

Children should have a dental check by the time they turn two.

Dental checks are important because:

  • the early signs of tooth decay and other problems can easily be missed by families
  • small problems can be treated before they become larger problems
  • they give you a chance to ask questions or talk about any concerns you may have
  • your dentist can help prevent decay with treatments such as fluoride application and dental sealants

Oral health professionals who may perform dental checks for children include:

  • dentists
  • oral health therapists
  • dental therapists
  • dental hygienists.

Other professionals who might perform dental checks for very young children include:

  • maternal and child health nurses
  • GPs
  • practice nurses (at your GP clinic).

These professionals will refer your child to an oral health professional if necessary.

It is important to make sure that your child is eating healthily. Unhealthy diets that include sugary drinks and other sugary snacks can lead to dental problems.

You should also make sure that your child and family regularly visits the dentist. You can ask your dentist for advice on how often your child needs to see them for a check-up.