Millions of parents putting children’s health at risk by not knowing dental care facts, according to research

'It is essential that parents regularly take their children to the dentist as soon as their baby has their first tooth or turns one – whichever is sooner'

Sunday 13 May 2018 17:46 BST

Millions of British parents could be putting their children’s health at risk by not knowing the facts about kids’ dental care, according to research.

A quarter of adults don’t think it matters if their kids develop cavities in their baby teeth, and admit to a lack of knowledge about oral health in children.

And nearly a third of parents in the UK wait until their children have all their milk teeth before taking them to the dentist for the first time, according to the study of 1,000 parents with kids under 13.

Nyree Whitely, the group clinical director for mydentist, which commissioned the research ahead of Smile Month, said: “There is a common misconception that baby teeth do not matter.

“But the truth is that they are essential for speech, the structure of the face and holding space for the adult teeth to erupt into. If there is decay it can lead to infection, discomfort and potentially damage the permanent teeth below.”

“It is essential that parents regularly take their children to the dentist as soon as their baby has their first tooth or turns one – whichever is sooner.

“Children’s appointments are free and where appropriate include a fluoride varnish treatment that can help protect against decay.”

More than half of parents in the UK stop helping their children brush their teeth too early, and two thirds had no idea what kind of toothbrush their child should be using.

Parents also admit to confusion over fluoride in toothpaste, with half saying they don’t check or wouldn’t know how much should be in their toothpaste.

One in 10 parents would happily give their child a drink of fruit juice after brushing their teeth and before going to bed.

And almost a third would happily give their young ones a glass of milk before bed, which is now understood to be a cause of tooth decay due to the natural sugars it contains – especially after teeth-brushing time.

Nyree Whitely said: “It can be hard for parents to find the right advice on children’s oral health which is why we also give parents tips on brushing. Helping children have good brushing technique can help set them up for a lifetime of good oral hygiene.”

For further information, tips and advice, visit

Top Tips for good dental health in children

• Take your child to the dentist as soon as their first tooth comes through.

• Give your child water or cold milk before bed if they need a bedtime drink.

• Encourage your child to spit out excess toothpaste after they brush, but not to rinse or gargle.

• Give your child a soft, small headed toothbrush for brushing.

• Use a timer to ensure your child brushes for the full, recommended, two minutes.

• Your child should be brushing twice a day, before bed and at least one other time during the day.

• Always check the fluoride levels in the toothpaste you buy your child - Fluoride is a natural mineral found in drinking water and many foods. It plays an important role in your child’s oral health by strengthening their tooth enamel, making it more resistant to tooth decay.

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