Oral health for toddlers and pre-schoolers


  • Brush all the surfaces of the teeth and gum-line in small circles for around 2 minutes, twice a day - just before bedtime and at another time that fits in with your routine
  • Children under 3 should use a smear of toothpaste containing no less than 1000ppm fluoride
  • Children aged 3 and over should use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste containing more than 1000ppm fluoride
  • Use a toothpaste containing 1350-1500ppm fluoride for maximum prevention.  Most ‘own brand’ supermarket toothpastes are suitable and more affordable
  • Spit out the toothpaste and do not rinse!
  • Brush all the surfaces of the teeth.   The parent/carer should sit the child on their lap or stand behind them and cradle the child’s head while brushing
  • Persevere even if the child is uncooperative. Brushing with a fluoride toothpaste is more important than good toothbrushing technique!
  • Each family member should have their own toothbrush to stop spread of germs


Shopping trolley

  • Reduce the amount and frequency of having foods and drinks that contain sugar, only give sweet foods including dried fruit at mealtimes
  • Squashes sweetened with sugar, fizzy drinks, soft drinks and juice drinks have no place in a child’s daily diet
  • 'No added sugar’ still contain natural sugars and can damage teeth. Diet/zero fizzy drinks still contain acids that can damage teeth
  • Limit the amount of fruit juice and/or smoothies your child drinks to a maximum of 150 mls (one portion) in total per day and drink it with meals to reduce the risk of tooth decay
  • Always ask for sugar-free medicines
  • baby teeth wobble out and the first adult teeth start to come through at age 6-7

Visiting the dentist                                                                                               

  • NHS dental treatment is free for children under 18 or under 19 and in qualifying full-time education
  • Going to the dentist regularly helps the child become familiar with the dental environment, and enables the dentist to pick up on any problems as early as possible
  • The dentist can paint fluoride varnish on children’s teeth to protect them from tooth decay.  All children over 3 should have it applied at least twice a year, and it may also be used for younger children at high risk of tooth decay.  Parents/carers should ask their dentist about fluoride varnish
  • Baby teeth wobble out and the first adult teeth start to come through at age 6-7

At the dentist

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