Oral care tips Tooth care for children, older people and in pregnancy
Looking after children’s teeth
You should take your baby for their first dental check up when they're about six months old, or when their first milk teeth start to appear. It's generally recommended that children see their dentist once every three to twelve months.
Brushing your child's teeth
As soon as your child’s first teeth begin to appear, you should start to clean them.
- Use a baby toothbrush to gently massage a smear of fluoride toothpaste around the teeth and gums
- Using a piece of cloth wrapped round your finger also works
- Make sure you use a toothpaste with the right amount of fluoride for your child - for more information, visit NHS Choices
- Make sure the child spits the toothpaste out afterwards
As your child grows up, encourage them to brush their own teeth twice daily. Baby teeth will start to be replaced by adult teeth at around the age of six. They should use a soft, small-headed brush – or an electric toothbrush.
Avoiding too much sugar or acid is also vital to keeping kids’ teeth healthy.
Dental care for older people
Taking care of your teeth is important at any age, but as your gums may recede and become more sensitive there are extra things to consider. It’s important that you keep visiting the dentist for regular checkups.
If your movement or eyesight is impaired, it can become harder to clean your teeth or floss.
Arthritis can make it very difficult to grip the handle of a toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes can be easier to use as they usually have a wider handle and don’t require as much movement. Special adapters to make gripping regular brushes easier are also available. If you have dentures, it’s important to keep them clean.
It's possible to maintain your own teeth for your whole life – keep up regular brushing and flossing, and eat well.
Dental care during pregnancy
It’s important to visit your dentist while you’re pregnant, as changes in your hormones affect your teeth and gums. Remember that dental treatment on the NHS is free while you’re pregnant and until your baby is one year old.
Dental X-rays carry a very slight risk to the health of your unborn baby, so make sure you tell your dentist if you know you are pregnant or think you might be. Talk to your dentist about whether any new or replacement fillings need to wait until after your baby is born.
It’s also very important that you eat a nutritious, balanced diet. This will keep your own teeth and gums healthy, and also make sure your baby has strong bones and teeth.
Advice for people with long-term conditions
People with certain long-term conditions such as diabetes, or with a weakened immune system, may be more at risk of gum disease, so it’s especially important that you look after your teeth and visit the dentist regularly.
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