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Looking after your baby’s teeth

Updated: Mar 6

If you feel unsure about how and when to brush your baby’s teeth, you are not alone! Parents often ask our practitioners: when do you start brushing baby teeth? How do you brush baby teeth? What do you do if your child hates having their teeth brushed?

We’re here to help!

Parents should begin cleaning their baby’s mouth earlier than most people realize. To make it into a routine early on, it is recommended that you clean your baby’s gums, before their teeth come in, daily with a clean, damp washcloth or infant toothbrush.

You can start brushing your baby's teeth as soon as they start to come through. Use a baby toothbrush with a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste.

Brushing a young child’s teeth isn’t always easy, but it essential to establish, and maintain, a good oral healthcare routine to keep your little one’s mouth healthy!

Here are some tips for when you begin brushing:

· Use a small smear of toothpaste for babies and toddlers up to 3 years old, and a pea sized amount for children aged 3 - 6 years.

· Slowly begin brushing your child's teeth more thoroughly, covering all the surfaces of the teeth. Do it at least twice a day: just before bed and at another time that fits in with your daily routine.

· The easiest way to brush a baby's teeth is to sit them on your knee, with their head resting against your chest. When they’re older, stand behind them and tilt their head backwards.

· Brush the teeth in small circles and encourage your child to spit the toothpaste out afterwards (no need to rinse with water - this will wash away the fluoride).

· Supervise brushing to make sure your little one gets the right amount of toothpaste and that they're not eating toothpaste from the tube.

· Carry on helping your child brush their teeth until you're sure they can do it well themselves – normally around 7 years old.

Not all children like having their teeth brushed, you might find they refuse or make it difficult to brush their teeth. To help here are some tips and ideas:

Get Them Involved

The key is to make it into a positive activity, so that your little one associates it in a positive way!

Let them choose a toothbrush they like and allow them to have a go at brushing themselves, (even if you have to correct them after!).

Giving them some control over toothbrush time is a great way to make them excited about oral health.

Practicing on a toy

Get your little one to brush their toy's teeth, you can then brush theirs. You could try using silly voices to add a little more fun.

Children learn by playing and copying. By involving their toys in toothbrush time, you're giving them a safe and fun way to get them more comfortable.

Use music

Songs are fun! Choose a song they know (or a toothbrushing song) and singalong.

Can they keep their mouth open as wide as possible whilst trying to sing along? If that doesn't work, then try to have them roar like a lion and do the brushing then.

Singing for a couple of minutes will also help them understand how long they need to brush for.

Funny faces

Making funny faces together in the mirror as you help brush their teeth is an easy way to keep your little one distracted.

Some faces might require big smiles or wide-open mouths which will help you brush their teeth whilst they have fun!

Here are just a few ideas to make brushing easier! You can find more tips and tricks by following the links below:

Finally, it is important that your little one sees a dentist. You should book your first appointment as soon as the first tooth appears. Your dentist will then advise how often you’ll need to visit them.

You can take your child with you when you go for your own dental appointment, so they can get used to the idea.

NHS dental treatment for children is free. To find a dentist, you can use the NHS services search (click here), ask at your local clinic, or contact the NHS directly on 0300 311223 or email


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