Mind The Gap: How to Get Kids Into a Good Oral Hygiene Routine Early

We’ve all experienced those frantic bedtime routines—PJs on, school bags packed, and the final push to get everyone’s teeth brushed. With the rising costs of dental care and more practices leaning towards private treatments, the average family can expect to shell out around £650 a year for standard dental check-ups and hygiene treatments. But here’s the good news: many expensive dental procedures like fillings and extractions can be avoided with a solid oral hygiene routine from an early age.

Shockingly, children as young as two can require fillings, and around 38% of children under 11 have untreated tooth decay. Clearly, it’s essential to instil good oral hygiene habits early on, but many parents are unsure where to start. Let’s walk through the key steps to get your child on the right track for a healthy smile.

When to Start

A child’s first teeth, also known as milk teeth, usually appear between 6 and 12 months. This is the perfect time to introduce a gentle brushing routine, as tooth decay can start as soon as teeth emerge. By 12 months, it’s ideal to take your child for their first dental check-up to familiarise them with the dental environment and show that dentists aren’t scary at all.

Brushing Basics

When teeth start to come in, begin using a kid’s toothpaste containing fluoride, with just a pea-sized amount. Until then, brushing with water is fine. Around age three, children often want to brush their own teeth, so choose a toothbrush that fits their small hands. Remember, they will need help and supervision until they are about six years old and can handle brushing more effectively. After brushing, encourage them not to rinse away the toothpaste.

Making Brushing Fun

Two critical elements for a successful oral hygiene routine are making it fun and keeping it consistent. Use a calendar to mark off brushing with gold stars or stickers, rewarding a full week of stars with a treat (not sweets!). Playing your child’s favourite song while brushing can make the task more enjoyable. Brushing together as a family also sets a great example. Just like explaining the importance of handwashing, teaching your child why dental health matters will help them understand and value these habits.

Interdental Cleaning

Did you know 77% of tooth decay starts between the teeth, but a toothbrush only cleans 60% of the tooth surface? Introducing interdental cleaning early is vital. Products like DenTek’s floss picks and interdental brushes can be used as soon as two teeth touch, usually between ages two and six. Regular interdental cleaning keeps teeth and gums healthy, a habit that only about a quarter of adults currently practice. DenTek’s “Clean Between” campaign encourages everyone to adopt this crucial part of dental care.

Top 5 Tips for Encouraging Great Oral Hygiene in Children

1. Start young! Begin brushing as soon as milk teeth appear, which can also reduce teething pain.
2. Introduce a kid’s fluoride toothpaste when teeth erupt.
3. Start interdental cleaning when two teeth touch.
4. Make brushing fun with songs and healthy treats.
5. Set a good example by making it a family routine.

Starting early and teaching your child proper dental care sets them up for a lifetime of good habits. A healthy smile boosts self-confidence and overall health, and helps avoid unnecessary dental treatments. In short, it’s one of the best life skills you can teach your child!

DenTek products are available at Boots, Amazon, Lloyds Pharmacy, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Ocado, Superdrug, Weldricks Pharmacy and through the DenTek website.


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