New research has revealed that 56% of parents admit to keeping their children’s baby teeth- in light of this- we take a look at what parents can do to keep their baby's teeth in perfect condition. 

Parenting on Female First

Parenting on Female First

Bringing a new baby into the world can be a daunting experience, especially for first-time parents. From dirty nappies and bathing, to feeding and dressing, there’s a lot to think about! Second

After the hazy new born stage and as you start to find your parenting feet, your little one will already be teething and likely to be cutting their first tooth – this is when oral health begins.

With the latest statistics revealing that tooth decay is currently the most common reason for hospital admission for children aged five to nine years old and the associated cost to the NHS working out at approximately £3.4 billion[1], it’s essential that parents and guardians understand the importance of caring for baby teeth and start tending to them the moment they emerge through the gums.

Each baby’s development is different, but the growth of all 20 primary teeth generally occurs between three months and three years of age. Dr Gurman Sond, Dental Clinical Fellow, at Bupa Dental Care – one of the UK’s largest providers of NHS and private dentistry – gives his expert advice on tending to tiny teeth and how practicing good oral care early on sets patterns for a lifetime.

0-3 years

Pre-teething can start several weeks before the teeth start coming through. Signs to look out for during this painful phase include dribbling, excessive chewing, as well as swelling and tenderness of the gums.

After that, baby teeth will start to become visible in the mouth, between six and twelve months of age, with the central incisors on the lower jaw (the two front teeth) usually being the first to show. As baby teeth are more susceptible to cavities, it’s best to use a gentle child’s toothbrush, which has bristles designed to be kind to the gums, and a suitable toothpaste as advised by your dentist.

Cleaning twice a day will prevent tooth decay, limit the growth of oral bacteria and strengthen tooth enamel. Sit your baby on your knee and tilt their head downwards when brushing their teeth, so that the toothpaste can dribble out of the baby’s mouth.

You should take your baby to the dentist as soon as their first tooth erupts to get them used to the environment. Making the dentist a fun and worry-free experience from a young age can prevent anxiety and avoidance later on in life. Remember that children under 18 usually qualify for free NHS dental treatment.

3-7 years

By the age of three, children will still need parental assistance when brushing their teeth to ensure it is done properly and for the whole two minutes, but at this point parents can use more toothpaste, around a pea sized amount, again of your own, to help clean your child’s teeth more thoroughly.

Around school age, children will want to start brushing their own teeth, but until the age of seven or eight, we would advise you still help and guide them.

To help your child to continue enjoy brushing their teeth and making it a part of their daily routine, you could let them watch you brush yours, or better still, let them have a go at brushing for you.

It’s essential to make brushing teeth fun. Getting children to brush their teeth twice a day can be hard and we hear of many shying away from this important chore. To try and break any teeth-time tantrums, you could let your child choose a toothbrush in their favourite colour or one with a character from a TV show or movie and make sure it’s the right size for your child’s mouth.

Making a checklist and/or simple reward chart with stickers can also work well too. Or downloading one of the fantastic and informative tooth brushing apps or singing your child’s favourite song for two minutes is another distraction technique to make teeth brushing an enjoyable task.

7+ years

Once your child reaches the age of seven, they should be able to brush their teeth themselves. Children at this age are becoming more independent, however it is important as a parent to still ensure your child is brushing for two minutes morning and night.

Otherwise, introducing a simple timer in the bathroom to make two minutes whizz by will help encourage children to brush for the required amount of time. It can also help them understand the concept of time, and how long two minutes is.

At this age, electric toothbrushes that are designed for children are also a great way to ensure your child’s teeth are being brushed properly, as the electric brush does a lot of the work for them. The ones with flashing lights and a built-in timer particularly attract children to brush their teeth for the appropriate time.

Effective dental care from an early age can lead to a life-long healthy smile and good general health, therefore it is important to establish good cleaning habits for your child as soon as possible. Using the correct brushing technique twice a day can prevent the build-up of plaque, reducing your child’s chances of tooth decay and gum disease. It is also important to take your child to the dentist for a regular check-up, to ensure they have good oral health and so you can address any problems that may arise early.

Bupa Dental Care has NHS and private check-ups available up and down the country. You don’t need to be insured by us to attend one of our dental clinics. Services and treatments are available to everyone. To book your child’s appointment, please visit:

[1] According to Public Health England’s 2019 figures.

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