Advice on cleaning your baby / child’s teeth

Start brushing your baby’s teeth as soon as they start to come through.

Use a baby toothbrush with a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste.

You won’t be able to brush much at first, you’re getting your baby used to brushing their teeth as part of their daily routine. Let your baby see you brushing your own teeth.

Top tips for tooth brushing:

  • Use toothpaste with 1450ppm of fluoride, you don’t need to buy babies tooth paste, your tooth paste maybe suitable.
  • Smear a tiny amount of toothpaste on their brush for babies up to 3 years old, and a pea-sized amount for children aged 3 to 6 years.
  • Gradually start brushing your child’s teeth more thoroughly, covering all the surfaces of the teeth.
  • Clean your babies teeth twice a day: just before bed and at another time that fits in with your routine.


What if my baby doesn’t like getting their teeth cleaned?

  • This is common for children to not like having their teeth cleaned.
  • Keep trying.
  • Make it into a game, or brush your own teeth at the same time and then help your child finish their own.

How to clean my babies’ teeth?

  • The easiest way to brush a baby’s teeth is to sit them on your knee, with their head resting against your chest (baby looking forward).
  • With an older child, stand behind them and tilt their head backwards.
  • Brush the teeth in small circles, covering all the surfaces, and encourage your child to spit the toothpaste out afterwards. This is not possible for babies; as you are using small amounts of tooth paste, it is safe to leave the toothpaste on their teeth/mouth
  • There’s no need to rinse with water, as this will wash away the fluoride.
  • Supervise brushing: so your child uses the right amount of toothpaste, they’re not eating or licking toothpaste from the tube.
  • Carry on helping your child brush their teeth until you’re sure they do it well enough, this will normally be until they’re at least 7 years old.


You are entitled to free dental care during your pregnancy and the first year postnatally.

You should take your baby / child with you when you go to the dentist, when your baby gets teeth through the dentist can review your babies teeth and gums. Find our local NHS dentists: Find a dentist – NHS ( Dentist care is free for all under 19’s.


Why is good oral care important?

Data from the Lewisham Child health profile, June 2018 reported that in Lewisham 19.4% of 5 year olds have one or more decayed, filled or missing teeth; and admission to hospital for dental caries was above the English average.

  • A quarter (25%) of 5 year olds had experienced tooth decay and have on average 3 or 4 teeth affected.
  • The vast majority of tooth decay was untreated.
  • Tooth extraction was the sixth most common procedure in hospital for children under 5 years old
  • Poor oral health harms school readiness
  • Tooth decay is largely preventable
  • ‘Lift the lip’, check your babies teeth and gums after cleaning to look out of early signs of tooth decay.

Preventing tooth decay

For more information on preventing tooth decay you can visit the below websites:

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