This daily ritual will improve your child’s dental health

DentalDental TipsKids Dentist

Dental hygiene plays an important role in the overall health of our body – that’s why it’s important to set children up with good dental practices from an early age.

Children will begin getting permanent/adult teeth from around five to six years old. These include molars as well as new teeth that will replace their baby or ‘milk teeth’ as they fall out. But care for our teeth needs to begin well before this.

Just two minutes spent brushing twice a day helps to remove bacteria and plaque that causes tooth decay and gum disease, which can lead to other health issues. It’s important to guide your child’s dental practices and check your child’s teeth regularly to ensure there are no signs of decay or poor gum health.

When is it time to visit a dentist?

From around the age of four or five children should start making regular visits to the dentist. By age five, children will have a full set of ‘milk teeth’ and will also be able to follow simple instructions, sit in a chair for short periods and tolerate a short inspection of the teeth and gums.

Other indicators that children should see a dentist, regardless of age, include:

  • White lines at the top of the tooth, along the gums, or brown spots on the teeth. This can be a sign of early (reversible) decay, or of more advanced decay.
  • Red, bleeding or swollen gums.
  • A bad taste in the mouth that won’t go away.
  • An experience of trauma or impact to teeth or gums causing movement or dislodgement of a tooth or significant bleeding.

St John Dental kids dentist


Regardless of age, if you have any concerns about your child’s dental health or development they can be seen by a dentist at any age.

Age-based dental care for kids

  • Infant:

    • Good dental habits can be established before teeth appear! Wipe gums with a clean damp cloth after meals/twice a day.
    • Introduce a small soft toothbrush for teeth cleaning once a few teeth are present.
    • Give cooled boiled water in a bottle if your infant requires it to go to sleep, rather than milk or sweet liquids which can cause decay. Long periods of sucking on a bottle or falling asleep whilst feeding on a bottle can have adverse effects on dental health.
  • Toddler:

    • Keep up the toothbrushing with a soft toothbrush. Brushing should be a twice-daily ritual!
    • A low fluoride toothpaste can be introduced for brushing from 18 months up to five years. Toddlers should spit after brushing (they should not swallow the toothpaste), but there is no need to rinse.
    • Encourage your toddler to ‘have a go’ if they want to, however, make sure this is always followed up by a thorough brush by an adult/parent.
    • Flossing teeth should start when a child has most of their baby teeth, or when they have two teeth that touch.
  • Child (four years +):

    • Begin annual visits to the dentist. You could have your child accompany you or another adult on a trip to the dentist to build familiarity and comfort before their first visit.
    • From six years children can begin using regular toothpaste at which time they should start rinsing with water after brushing.
    • Parents should continue to brush their child’s teeth until they are seven to eight years old. Children can transition to brushing their own teeth around this age, however, ensure you are still regularly checking their teeth and supervising correct brushing technique.

How to brush correctly

  • A soft toothbrush with a small head should always be used for children. Soft bristles help avoid damage to tooth enamel and gums, which can happen if too much pressure is applied while brushing with harder bristles.
  • A pea-sized amount of low fluoride toothpaste should be used for children aged 18 months to five years. From Six years old normal strength toothpaste can be used.
  • Use small circular motions when brushing, ensuring all sides of each tooth and the gums are brushed. Brush back and forth across the chewing surfaces of teeth. Use a flicking motion from the base of the gums to the top of the teeth to ensure the area between the teeth and gum are clean.
  • After brushing, children using low fluoride toothpaste should spit out any leftover in their mouth. It should not be swallowed or rinsed out. Children using regular strength toothpaste should spit and rinse with water after brushing.
  • Brush twice a day, every day for at least two minutes each time – and remember to change your child’s toothbrush every three months or if it becomes worn out.

Top tooth care tips for kids

  • Ensure teeth-brushing is part of a twice-daily routine – make regular flossing part of this too.
  • Encourage your child to brush their own teeth, however, be sure to provide parental assistance until around eight years old. After this, supervision is still important.
  • Avoid giving children excessive amounts of sugary foods and drinks. Bacteria in plaque convert food sugars into acid – this attacks the tooth enamel, causing decay. Regular sugary snacks between meals increase the likelihood of tooth decay, whilst regular brushing helps to manage it.
  • Encourage children to drink plenty of water throughout the day – it’s the best thirst quencher and also helps to remove any leftover food in the mouth between brushing.
  • Check your child’s teeth regularly to ensure there are no signs of decay or poor gum health.
  • Compliment your child on how lovely and bright their smile is after brushing!
  • Book in to see a dentist when your child is old enough, or if you have any concerns about the way your child’s teeth are growing. Visiting once or twice a year is recommended.

Book a St John Dentist today

St John Dental has family dental clinics in Armadale, Cannington, Cockburn, Joondalup and Midland for all of your children’s, general, cosmetic and emergency dental needs. You can find more information or book an appointment online here.

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