Children's Dental Care
Dental care for any child aims to:
- to keep the primary (baby) and permanent (adult) teeth free from disease,
- to reduce the risk of the child experiencing pain or infection or acquiring treatment-induced dental anxiety if dental decay does occur,
- for the child to grow up feeling positive about their oral health and with the skills and motivation to maintain it.
To achieve these aims, the priorities for the dental team are:
- to encourage a child’s parent/carer to take responsibility for their child’s oral health; implement preventive advice at home and meet their obligations to bring their child for dental care;
- to apply the full range of preventive measures to the highest standard possible;
- to focus on prevention of decay, but should it occur, the timely management of that decay in the primary and permanent teeth;
- should it occur, to manage decay in the primary teeth using an appropriate technique that maximises the chance of saving the tooth so that at the appropriate time it will fall out naturally;
- to identify and support the parents/carers of children who have difficulties understanding and complying with dental health preventive advice and the need to access dental treatment for their children. If necessary, the dental team can work collaboratively with other agencies such as Health Visitors and School Nurses:
- To ensure the well being of these children.
For children under 12, if the child’s dental health meets the current criteria for treatment, to discuss and, if agreed, arrange a referral to the Children’s Dental Service (CDS) at the PEH.
Simple steps to healthy young teeth
- Start brushing your baby’s teeth with baby fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first baby tooth breaks through (usually at around six months, but it can be earlier or later). It’s important to use a child’s fluoride paste as this helps prevent and control tooth decay.
- Children under the age of three can use a smear of family toothpaste containing at least 1,000ppm (parts per million) fluoride. Toothpaste with less fluoride is not as effective at preventing decay. Children between the ages of three and six should use a pea-sized blob of toothpaste containing 1,350-1,500ppm fluoride. Check the toothpaste packet for this information or ask your dentist.
- Make sure your child does not eat or lick the toothpaste from the tube.
- Brush your child’s teeth for at least two minutes twice a day, once just before bedtime and at least one other time during the day.
- Encourage them to spit out excess toothpaste but not to rinse with water. Rinsing out after tooth brushing will wash away the fluoride and reduce any benefits.
- Supervise tooth brushing until your child is seven or eight years old, either by brushing their teeth yourself or, if they brush their own teeth, by watching how they do it. From the age of seven or eight they should be able to brush their own teeth, but it’s still a good idea to watch them now and again to make sure they brush properly.
- Guide your child’s hand so they can feel the correct movement.
- Use a mirror to help your child see exactly where the brush is cleaning their teeth.
- Make tooth brushing as fun as possible, using an egg timer or a mobile phone or tablet app to time it for at least two minutes.
- Don’t let children run around with a toothbrush in their mouth as they may have an accident and hurt themselves.
- Take your child to the dentist when the first baby teeth appear. This is so they become familiar with the environment and get to know the dentist. The dentist can help to prevent decay and identify any health problems at an early stage. Just opening up the child’s mouth for the dentist to take a look is useful practice for when they could benefit from future preventive care.
- When you visit the dentist, be positive about it and make the trip fun. This will stop your child worrying about future visits.
- Take your child for regular dental check-ups as advised by the dentist.
- Fissure sealants can be done once your child’s permanent back teeth have started to come through (usually at the age of about six or seven) to protect them from decay. This is where the chewing surfaces of the back teeth are covered with a special thin plastic coating to keep germs and food particles out of the grooves. The sealant can last for as long as 5 to 10 years.
- Fluoride varnish can be applied to both baby teeth and adult teeth. The process involves painting a varnish containing high levels of fluoride onto the surface of the tooth every six months to prevent decay. It works by strengthening tooth enamel, making it more resistant to decay.
Ask your dentist about fluoride varnish or fissure sealing.
- Read more tips on how to look after your children’s teeth