A better Medway

Oral health in the early years

When children’s first teeth are healthy, they make a healthy foundation for permanent adult teeth.

Having a healthy smile at any age is a sign of good general health and wellbeing.

Take your baby to the dentist when their first teeth come through or, by the age of one. This helps to get them used to the sounds and smells of the dental surgery and the people they will meet.

Teething can be distressing for some babies but there are ways to help relieve painful symptoms. Visit the NHS website for information and advice on how to help your teething baby.

Preventing tooth decay

Tooth decay is common in children and its preventable, so it’s important to look after their teeth and gums from an early age, even before they get their first tooth.

Tooth decay in children can mean they:  

  • struggle to eat well 
  • stop smiling 
  • experience pain, particularly at night which disrupts their sleep  
  • struggle to concentrate or reach their potential at nursery or school.

To protect your children’s teeth from decay, you should:

  • visit the dentist regularly. Do not forget to ask your dentist for a smile passport
  • brush at least twice a day - before bed and at one other time in the day. Use a smear of toothpaste for 0 to 3 year olds and a pea sized amount for children aged 3 year olds and over. Children should be supervised and supported to brush their teeth until they are around 8 years old
  • use sugar free medicines. If you're using prescribed medicines, ask your GP if there is a sugar free version available 
  • encourage children to spit out the remaining toothpaste foam and do not rinse the mouth after brushing. For younger children a flannel can be used to wipe out any excess toothpaste foam
  • children begin to get their adult teeth from 6 years of age. At the back of the mouth new adult molar teeth will grow behind the existing baby molars. This can cause discomfort in the mouth and children will often miss brushing right to the back
  • from the day a baby is born they are constantly learning. Help to teach your child good dental hygiene habits by brushing your own teeth in front of them and explain what you are doing.  

More information about caring for your children’s teeth can be found on Medway Community Healthcare website.

Baby oral health