Mother and Baby

How dentists look after their tots’ teeth

How dentists look after their tots’ teeth

Steal their expert ideas and give your little ones’ teeth the same standard of care - read how real dentists look after their own children’s teeth and follow their advice. 

Clean their gums and tongue with a corner of a flannel

Natalie Carman, from Cumbria, a Clinical Lead Dentist, mum to Hamish, five, and Euan, two, says: 

‘Before they had teeth, I cleaned my children’s gums and tongues, where the majority of bacteria form. I still make sure the tongue gets brushed. I sing a two-minute brushing song so they do it for the right length of time.’

Use mint-flavoured kids’ toothpaste

Millie Reed, from Wallsend, a community dental officer, mum to Rosie, two, says: 

‘Many kids reject adult toothpastes as the ones for children often have a fruity taste. Using a minty toothpaste when you start brushing your child’s teeth can help the transition to an adult toothpaste later.’ 

Brush teeth first thing when you wake up, not after breakfast

Fiona Ryan, from London, consultant orthodontist, mum to Marcus, two, and Lara, one, says:

‘Brushing after certain foods can do more harm than good. Acid from fruit juice sits on teeth and dissolves enamel – brushing straight after wears away the enamel.’ 

Feed your toddler a cube of cheese after each meal

Claire Stevens, from Newcastle, consultant paediatric dentist, mum to Ava, two, and Archie, three months, says:

‘After eating, teeth are under attack from the sugar in the food you’ve eaten for up to two hours. I don’t allow snacks, or teeth would be under constant attack. My daughter has four meals a day. After each one, I give her a cube of cheese to help neutralise any acid.’

Encourage early brushing

Dipika Deviram, from Oldham, community dentist, mum to Rohan, 16 months, says: 

‘I gave Rohan a toothbrush at four months. He didn’t have any teeth, but loved chewing on it. After watching me clean my teeth, he wanted to try too. It got him used to the sensation and brushing twice a day.’ 

I banned rusks and gave her dry toast

Mary McLaughlin Skene, from Glasgow, specialist registrar in paediatric dentistry, mum to Hayley Laura, 14 months, says:

‘Rusks help with teething, but many contain a lot of sugar – even those with reduced sugar. So kids are rubbing newly-growing teeth with something that will attack them. I use a piece of dry toast instead.’

I weaned to a sippy cup early

Mariyah Nazir, from Manchester, consultant orthodontist, mum to Aisha, two, says:

‘Giving drinks in a bottle, even milk, allows fluid to pool around the teeth, placing them under attack for longer. So I weaned my daughter to a sippy cup when she was one. I also gave her a dental mask and gloves to play with to make the dental environment less alien for her.’

Use an electric toothbrush

Rachel Dinwoodie, from London, consultant orthodontist, mum to Alice, two, and Charlotte, 10 weeks, says:

‘I clean Alice’s teeth with an electric toothbrush from Brush Baby (£8.99, It has a light on the end to make it easier for me to see what I’m doing. Alice just loves using it.’

I never give dried fruit as snacks – not even raisins

Victoria Swan, from Bristol, special care dentistry registrar, mum to Sebastian, two, and Pippa, three months, says:

‘Dried fruit is full of sugar, which sticks to the crevices around teeth and causes decay. Fresh fruit is far better.’

I discouraged thumb-sucking

Dina Slater, from Weybridge, consultant and specialist orthodontist, mum to Layla, 20 months, says:

‘Because I see the orthodontic problems caused by prolonged thumb or dummy sucking, I discouraged my daughter by gently removing her thumb and giving her a teddy to cuddle instead.’

Related content: