Looking after your toddler’s teeth
It’s really important for kids to get into good dental habits from an early age. Every child grows their teeth at a different rate, but as a general rule, at about the age of one, you’ll see two rows of milk teeth – four little incisors on the top jaw and four on the bottom.
Here’s how to maintain good dental hygiene and strong teeth.
- Clean your child’s teeth twice a day – once in the morning and once just before bed.
- Don’t brush teeth straight after a meal as it weakens the enamel – wait at least 30 minutes after eating to avoid damage.
- Let your child brush but you will need to clean too. (You can call it ‘checking’.)
- Clean the front and back of each tooth using very small circles, gently brushing the gums too.
- Choose fluoride toothpaste (recommended by the Department of Health) specially formulated for your child’s age.
- Use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
- Change your child’s toothbrush when the bristles start to splay.
- Register with an NHS dentist and book a check-up every six months.
Eating habits for strong teeth
- Limit sweet food to pudding-time.
- Don’t give your child sugary food or drink in the half hour before bedtime. This is because production of saliva drops when we sleep, limiting its ability to neutralise plaque acid.
- Choose water or milk for your toddler’s everyday drinks rather than juice or fizzy drinks.
- Don’t add juice to your little one’s bottle – the teat keeps the sugary drinks in contact with the teeth for longer.
- Graduate your toddler onto a beaker.
- Opt for low sugar snacks between meals, like fruit and cheese. Watch out for dried fruit, like raisins, which contain high levels of fruit sugar, and can get stuck in teeth.