Dental Health 

How to Find an NHS Dentist

Good oral health habits need to be formed from an early age. Tooth decay is largely preventable, but it’s still a serious problem among young children, effecting around a quarter (25%) of 5 year olds! 

Guidance from Department of Health and Social Care

Tooth brushing should start as soon as the first tooth appears (around 6 months)

Parents or carers should brush their children’s teeth:

  • twice a day.
  • last thing at night (or before bedtime) and on one other occasion.
  • with a toothpaste containing at least 1000 ppm fluoride.
  • using a smear of toothpaste for 0-3’s and a pea sized amount for children aged 3 – 6       
  • with children over 3 spitting out after brushing rather than rinsing, to avoid diluting the fluoride concentration.
  • Minimise consumption of sugar-containing foods and drinks.  
    • Use sugar-free versions of medicines if possible.
    • Avoid sugar-containing foods and drinks at bedtime when saliva flow is reduced and buffering capacity is lost.
  • Teeth should be brushed by a parent or carer. As the child gets older, a parent or carer should assist them to brush their own teeth. This video shows your toddler how to brush their teeth from  BBC Tiny Happy People.

How you can help

Start chatting about oral health     

  • Talking about tooth brushing especially when talking about routines and self care.
  • Use mirrors for the children to look at their own teeth and count them.
  • Help children feel comfortable tooth brushing by sharing picture books together (see our recommended booklist at the bottom of this page). 
  • Sing songs such as “This is the way we brush our teeth”

Role Play

  • Role play can help children to feel more familiar with what might happen at an appointment.  You could set up a dentist role play area and use teddies / dolls as patient model language saying things like “give the dentist a big smile so they can see your teeth, Open your mouth really wide so the dentist can count your teeth”.
  • Try using a tooth brush to clean your child's toys teeth.  

Be positive

  • Give lots of praise to children who have been to the dentist
  • When children talk about brushing their teeth tell them that their teeth are looking very clean / shiny white when you talk about tooth brushing.    

Promote and encourage healthy food and drink

  • Provide healthy food
  • Give healthier eating advice to parents to promote good oral and general health. The main message is to reduce the amount of foods and drinks that contain ‘free’ sugars.


Dental Care Advice

Practical Support



Book recommendations from the Cheshire Book Trust Team

  • The crocodile and the dentist by Taro Gomi

Crocodile has toothache but he really doesn’t want to visit the dentist. The dentist isn’t very enthusiastic about their appointment, either. A clever and subtle book exploring fear and empathy.

  • How to brush your teeth with snappy croc! By Jane Clarke and Georgie Birkett

The little girl in this engaging board book takes Snappy Croc through each teeth-cleaning step: from squeezing out the toothpaste to brushing round and round, and showing off her sparkling smile at the end.  Sure to encourage shiny teeth all round!

  • Whiffy Wilson: the wolf who wouldn’t wash by Caryl Hart and Leonie Lord

A great title in the Whiffy Wilson series that tackles all types of hygiene not just teeth brushing.  Full of stinky treats in playful rhyme, it will delight little ones while sending gentle reminders.

  • Getting Ready by Child’s Play

It’s time to get up and get ready. There’s so much to do! Children can explore the morning routine with this brilliant interactive book.  Something to come back to time and again.

  • Brush your teeth, Max and Millie by Felicity Brooks and Desideria Guicciardini

One of the Usborne Toddler Books, this story is perfect encouraging young children to have a go at independently brushing their teeth.  There is a ‘little clean teeth dance’ and a well-placed question right at the end—do you like to clean your teeth?

  • Topsy and Tim go to the Dentist by Jean and Gareth Adamson

As with all the books in the Topsy and Tim series, this story goes through all the stages of a trip to the dentist in a positive way.  It also touches on fillings, tooth decay and making good choices about sugary foods.

  • Harry and the Dinosaurs say ‘Raahh!’ by Ian Whybrow and Adrian Reynolds

Harry is going for a dentist check up and his sister has been telling him all about her filling so he is very nervous.  The dinosaurs come along for moral support and everyone ends up having their teeth checked in what turns out to be a great fun experience.

These books can all be ordered and from your local library

Page last reviewed: 23 April 2024

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