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How do I brush my child’s teeth?

22nd October 2014

To brush teeth properly you should brush for at least two minutes.

Good oral care starts from the beginning of a child’s life. You will most likely notice your child’s teeth coming through at around 6 months of age.


Around this time you will be able to purchase infant tooth paste and soft, easy to use brushes. It will not normally be a two minute clean. Cleaning twice daily for as long as possible is advised.

Start taking your child to the dentist at around 18 months of age; never take them when you are having treatment as this may put them off.

Baby bottles can lead to tooth decay this is because the liquids containing sugars and the teeth are bathed in it.

These include milk, formula, and fruit juices. The sugary liquids pool around the teeth for long periods of time as your baby sleeps, leading to cavities that first develop in the upper and lower front teeth. Do not let your baby fall asleep with a bottle of juice or milk in his mouth. Instead, give your child a bottle filled with water or a form of pacifier recommended by your dentist. If you are breastfeeding try if possible to avoid letting your baby nurse continuously. After each feed get into the habit of wiping your baby’s teeth and gums with a clean, damp cloth or gauze.

Advice for protecting teeth as your child grows

Dental Plaque

Dental Plaque is a sticky substance that bonds to the surface of our teeth during the day through eating/drink and because of the presence of bacteria. If this is left on the teeth it will turn into tartar. This is when the plaque becomes hard and in turn makes cleaning the gum compromised.

Plaque control is a mechanical requirement. This is done by brushing the teeth and gums daily. Twice daily is the advice, but some people will do this more often. Interdental cleaning is also very important, whether it be floss, Tepe’s or another interdental aid from the teenage years (not suitable for young children).

If plaque is left on the teeth it will turn into acid and cause caries.


Dental caries is also known as “decay” It is caused by bacteria in the mouth. There are specific types that are involved. This is very destructive to your tooth tissue. If food and debris is allowed to remain on teeth it begins to breakdown the enamel.

The mouths normal pH level is expected to be 6.5 or higher. A tooth tissue begins to demineralise when acid in the mouth ph goes below 5.5. It begins to attack the tooth leading to a weakness.

The mouth has its own way to protect against this, called the buffer action. It is can take from a minimum 30 minutes but longer for it to re-mineralise. The natural saliva helps to neutralise the acid and keeps the teeth sound, constant snacking between meals/ sugary drinks or poor oral hygiene will lead to decay in otherwise healthy tooth tissue.

How do I reduce the caries risk

A high sugar diet, especially snacking in between meals will lead to an increased amount of caries (decay). The mouth never has a chance to recover and protect itself. Eating a low sugar diet, and only eating three times a day will reduce the potential for tooth decay.

A diet high in acid will lead to acid erosion of the hard tissues of the teeth. Limit the amount of acid consumed, fizzy drinks are to be avoided. Regurgitation (being sick) can also cause acid erosion, so this is to be avoided too. Although the consumption of fruit is good, the consumption of too much acid fruit is a risk.

Limit the amount of oranges, grapefruits and lemons, and their juices due to the risk of acid erosion. Erosion removes the enamel of teeth. This is the tooth’s strongest protective surface.
During teenage years and hormone in-balances you may be more susceptible to dental caries

Cleaning your teeth

Brush a minimum of twice a day, morning and night, for at least two minutes or longer until all plaque is removed use a small headed, soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Use floss or another interdental plaque remover too.

Disclosing agents can be used to highlight the areas that you are missing when you brush.

A non-alcohol mouth wash can also be used daily (follow instructions on the bottle) **** FOR CHILDREN ONLY USE A CHILD PRODUCT AND READ THE BOTTLE FIRST ******
Not brushing your teeth daily, and the minimum required amount in the short to long term will cause harm to your teeth..

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