Children need to see a dentist once they have milk teeth. The dentist will then suggest follow-ups – usually between three months and a year. If you wait until your child is about to go to school you should expect your dentist to look askance – NHS guidelines say that, at the very least, children should have at least one visit to the dentist before the age of two.
This is not only for children to get used to the whole dental-surgery experience but also because preventive treatments for decay are now available, such as painting teeth with fluoride varnish to strengthen enamel. Dentists can also give advice on brushing and diet.
Children should start brushing with soft-bristle brushes using fluoride toothpaste (1,000 parts per million to start with – check the packet) as soon as they have milk teeth. Parents must do it for the first few years (sitting your child on your lap and brushing from behind is good for toddlers) and should then supervise until the age of seven.
Brushing should be done for two minutes in the morning and evening and children should be shown how to brush (a circular action that starts and finishes in the same place on each tooth) by looking in the mirror, and be taught to spit rather than rinse as this retains the benefits of fluoride…