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Children and dental hygiene: A guide to looking after your child’s teeth

Starting good a dental routine at an early age is vital. From cleaning your baby’s gums to teaching your children how to clean their teeth independently, these early years are creating the foundation of a lifetime of good oral hygiene. We all want what is best for our children, but it’s easy to forget the dentist’s advice when you’re in the midst of a bedtime battle or the before-school rush. That is why the team at Cotteswold House Dental Care in Gloucester are here with a definitive guide to looking after your children’s teeth.

Brushing tips

When to clean
Although babies usually get their first tooth around 6 months, dental care can start straight away. Brush your newborn’s gums with a soft clean cloth and once their first tooth pops through, add a smear of toothpaste to an age-appropriate brush. It can be tricky (and not always successful!) but as well as looking after the teeth as soon as they come in, this helps your child get used to a dental routine.

How to clean
Brush your child’s teeth twice a day for two minutes each time. The recommended times are before bed and before breakfast. Clean the whole tooth in a circular motion, applying gentle pressure. Don’t be tempted to ask them to rinse afterwards, as this will wash the protective fluoride away.

Using either a manual or electric toothbrush is fine. If you are having trouble getting your child to cooperate with one sort, try the other. Reluctant cleaners often enjoy ‘the buzz’ of an electric toothbrush and using an interactive app can make it a more fun experience. A quick Internet search of ‘teeth cleaning songs’ or similar will bring up loads of songs and videos to entertain unenthusiastic brushers, although choose wisely as you will need to endure it too!

Make sure you choose toothpaste that is age-appropriate; toothpastes have differing amounts of fluoride as recommended for each age group. However, once children get to seven they can use regular adult toothpaste; there is no need to buy toothpaste marketed specifically at children unless you choose to. We also recommend avoiding flavoured toothpaste if possible; most adult toothpaste is only available in mint and so this could just lead to problems in the future. Plus, they’ll learn to love that minty-fresh feeling!

Dentist visits

How often should my child visit the dentist?
You should take your child to the dentist for a check-up every six months, starting from when their first teeth appear; simply bring them along to your appointment initially. If you join our children’s dental plan, the cost of these visits is spread over monthly payments and we will send you a reminder when it’s time to come and see us. We have after-school appointments as well as Saturdays, and we are happy to find a slot for the whole family to make things easier.

How much will it cost?
The children’s dental plan at Cotteswold House is just £8.93 per month and includes each 6-monthly healthy mouth review and an annual dental hygiene appointment. This will help us, and you, stay on top of any developments and address any concerns that may arise.

What should I ask the dentist?
Regular dental visits will help identify any potential problems early on. It’s an opportunity for the dentist to check teeth are erupting and developing as expected and spot any areas that aren’t being cleaned properly or need further attention. If you have any concerns about your child’s teeth or gums between appointments, please raise it with the Cotteswold House team and we would be happy to answer any questions you have.


What is tooth decay?
Tooth decay, or cavities, is permanent damage to the teeth caused by a build-up of plaque that turns sugars into acids. Sugary drinks, sweets and insufficient cleaning all contribute to tooth decay. Gum disease can also occur.

How can I avoid cavities in my child?
You can avoid cavities by ensuring proper cleaning, limiting sweet treats and drinks and taking regular visits to the dentist.

When do children start to get and lose baby teeth?
Baby, or milk, teeth start to come in when your child is around 6 months old, and they will most likely lose their first tooth age 5 or 6. This means that the first adult teeth come in then too, so it is crucial to have already established good dental habits.

When should children start flossing?
It is a good idea to start flossing your child’s teeth once they sit closely together, as this will help clean the areas that a toothbrush can’t get. Just ask your Cotteswold House dentist if you have any questions on how to floss your child’s teeth.

What food and drinks should they avoid?
Avoid giving children sweets as much as possible, giving in smaller quantities and encouraging them to be eaten in one go rather than snacked on. Sugary drinks like squash should be limited as well, and are best consumed at mealtimes. Don’t give children fizzy drinks as these contain large amounts of sugar, and both regular and diet versions contain acid that erodes the tooth’s enamel.

Common food and drink mistakes
Parents often think they are choosing a healthy snack for their children giving them dried fruit such as raisins. In fact, the concentrated sugars in dried fruit means this can be as bad as giving them sweets, which then stick around in teeth for a long time. And remember, ‘no added sugar’ doesn’t mean there is no sugar! Natural sugars can be as harmful for the teeth so drinks such as fruit juice should be limited and preferably consumed with meals.

Baby teeth help prepare us for looking after our permanent teeth, developing healthy habits that will last a lifetime and hopefully our teeth will too! If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment with a Cotteswold House dentist please call us on 01452 346740 or visit our contact page