A quick guide to a healthy mouth in children

A healthy mouth in children

The information below gives a summary of the simple steps that parents, carers and children can take every day to protect and improve their oral health, for a healthy mouth in children.

Click here for a guide for adults. The evidence based advice is from Delivering Better Oral Health.

Brushing children's teeth

  • Start brushing as soon as the first tooth appears (usually at about 6 months of age), at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste last thing at night and on at least one other occasion

  • Brushing at bedtime is important as it makes sure that the fluoride continues to protect the teeth while your child is asleep

  • Parents/carers should brush or help their child to brush their teeth until they are at least seven years old to make sure the teeth are cleaned properly, to supervise the amount of toothpaste used and to prevent licking or eating the toothpaste

  • Brush your child’s teeth thoroughly, cleaning all surfaces of the teeth

  • For older children disclosing tablets can help to show if any plaque is left on the teeth

  • Choose a toothbrush with a small head and medium-textured bristles, a manual or electric toothbrush can be used

  • For the maximum prevention of tooth decay for children aged 0-6 years use toothpastes containing 1350-1500 parts per million (ppm) fluoride

  • The amount of fluoride that is in the toothpaste can be found on the side of the tube or on the packaging

  • For children under three years old use a smear of toothpaste containing no less than 1000 ppm fluoride (see Figure 1)

  • Children between three and six years old should use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste containing more than 1000 ppm fluoride (see Figure 2)

Toothpaste for children

Figure 1

Toothpaste for children

Figure 2

  • encourage your child to spit out the toothpaste after brushing and do not let them rinse out with water as this will wash away the fluoride and reduces how well it works – spit don’t rinse 

  • for children who may have difficulties brushing their teeth such as those with special needs, toothbrush adaptations are available

For more information on how to maintain a healthy mouth in children, visit our news page