NHS and Private Dentists in Camberwell

Camberwell Dental Care

6 Camberwell Church St
London, SE5 8QU

caring for children's teeth

Here we give help and advice on how to:

Caring for your baby’s teeth

Babies’ teeth need to be to be cared for with regular brushing as soon as they develop.

First teeth

Babies start to develop their teeth when they are growing in the womb (uterus). The first teeth, also known as milk teeth or deciduous teeth begin to emerge through the gums at around six months of age. This process is known as teething.

Most children will have their full set of first teeth by the time they are around two-and-a-half years old. A full set of first teeth contains 20 teeth in total.

Your baby’s teeth can be affected by tooth decay straight away, so start cleaning their teeth with a children’s toothpaste as soon as they appear.

Start brushing your baby's teeth as soon as they begin to appear. Continue to clean your child’s teeth until they are old enough to do it themselves. This will usually be at least seven years of age.

Brushing your baby’s teeth will get your baby used to teeth brushing as part of their everyday routine. You can set a good example by letting them watch you brushing your teeth.

Brushing your baby's teeth

Brush your baby’s teeth twice a day using a small smear of children’s fluoride toothpaste on a children’s toothbrush.

Children’s fluoride toothpastes contain lower levels of fluoride than adult fluoride toothpastes.

Children’s toothbrushes have very small heads and soft bristles.

They may be available to buy from:

  • your dental surgery
  • a pharmacy
  • a large supermarket

The easiest way to brush a baby’s teeth is to sit them on your knee with their head resting against your chest. Brush the teeth in small circles, covering all the surfaces of the teeth.

Caring for an older child's teeth

Adult teeth

As children get older, their permanent adult teeth will start to appear. Adults can have up to 32 permanent teeth.

Permanent teeth develop in the jaw. They press on the roots of the first teeth and dissolve them so that the first tooth falls out and the adult tooth can come through. This process is called exfoliation and usually begins at around six years of age.

Children usually have most of their permanent teeth by the time they are 13 years of age. However, the wisdom teeth, which are at the back of the mouth in the upper and lower arches, develop in the late teens and early 20s.

A permanent tooth that is damaged or has to be removed will never grow back. This is why it is very important that children are taught how to take care of their teeth from an early age.

You will need to help your child brush their teeth until they are at least seven years of age. It is important to help them up until this time to ensure they are brushing their teeth correctly.

Give your child praise and encouragement when they brush their teeth well so that they develop good brushing habits. It may help if you brush your own teeth at the same time and then help your child to ‘finish off’. When your child first starts to brush their teeth on their own, check every few days to make sure that they are doing it correctly.

Brushing your child's teeth

When brushing your child’s teeth, you may find it easiest to sit or stand behind your child and gently hold their chin. This should allow you to get at both their top and bottom teeth.
Brush your child's teeth twice a day, for example:

  • after breakfast
  • before your child goes to bed

Try to get into a regular tooth-brushing routine. This will help your child when they start to brush their teeth on their own.

Use a pea-sized amount of children’s fluoride toothpaste and a brush that has been designed for children. When your child is around seven years of age, adult toothpaste can be used.

Encourage your child to spit out the toothpaste after brushing. They should not rinse with water afterwards because this has been found to reduce the benefit of fluoride (a mineral that helps to prevent tooth decay).

Teach your child the best way to brush their teeth before they start to clean them on their own. They should use gentle circular motions to clean each tooth individually. They also need to brush the back of each tooth and gently along the gum line.

When to visit the dentist

You can take your child to an NHS dentist as soon as they are born, even before they have any teeth. Your dentist will be able to advise you about how often your child should attend dental appointments for a check-up. This will usually be at least once a year. NHS dental treatment for children is free.

If you take your baby to the dentist when their first teeth start to appear (at around six months of age), your dentist will be able to check that their teeth are developing correctly. They can also give you guidance about how to care for your baby's teeth and how to ease problems such as teething (when a baby’s teeth begin to emerge through their gums).

It is also a good idea to take your child with you when you go to the dentist as this will help them become familiar and comfortable with the surroundings. Getting your child used to the sights and sounds of a dental surgery will help put them at ease when they have to go for their own check-ups.

Getting your child into a good oral health routine at a young age will ensure they continue to have good oral health when they are older. Speak to your dentist if you have any concerns about the development of your child's teeth or their general oral health.

What is Fluoride?

Fluoride is a natural element that can help prevent tooth decay. It occurs naturally in foods and is also found in some water supplies.
In the UK, the Department of Health and British Dental Association (BDA) recommend that fluoride should be added to tap water. This is because fluoride has proven oral health benefits. In particular, it promotes the development of healthy teeth in children and significantly reduces the incidence of tooth decay.
Fluoride in toothpaste is very effective. Use a tiny smear for babies and a pea-sized amount for toddlers and children.

  • Children up to three years of age should use a toothpaste that contains at least 1,000 ppm (parts per million) of fluoride.
  • After the age of three, children should use toothpaste that contains 1,350-1,500 ppm of fluoride.

Ask your dentist for advice if you are unsure about whether the toothpaste you are using contains the right amount of fluoride.

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find us

Camberwell Dental Care
6 Camberwell Church St,
London, Greater London


to register with the practice or book an appointment please contact us or

Tel: 020 7703 0301

opening hours

Monday 08.30-13.00 13:45-17:15
Tuesday 08.30-13.00 13:45-17:15
Wednesday 08.30-13.00 13:45-17:15
Thursday 08.30-13.00 13:45-17:15
Friday 08.30-13.00 13:45-17:15
Saturdays and evenings by arrangement.

Site last updated - August 2017

© 2012 Dr Jayesh . R .Patel. (BDS) & Dr Rupa J Patel (BDS)