Brushing teeth - Better Lives Healthy Futures

Brushing teeth

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Regular brushing will help your child to avoid tooth decay
Brushing teeth

Regular toothbrushing is very important for both children and adults. It helps to remove the bacteria and plaque that may cause tooth decay. You can help your child to get into a daily toothbrushing routine as soon as their first teeth break through.

Parents/carers should then brush or help their child to brush their teeth until they are at least seven years old to make sure the teeth are cleaned properly, to supervise the amount of toothpaste used and to prevent licking or eating the toothpaste.

What is fluoride and why is it added to toothpaste?

Fluoride is a natural mineral found in fruit, vegetables, fish and tea. Since being added to toothpaste, fluoride has contributed to a significant decline in tooth decay.

Fluoride works by strengthening tooth enamel, making it more resistant to decay. This is why you are advised not to rinse with either water or mouthwash after brushing your teeth, as this washes away the fluoride present in the toothpaste. Simply spit out the excess toothpaste; this will ensure that the fluoride is in contact with the teeth for as long as possible, allowing it to work.

Watch this short video from our Oral Health team to find out about age-appropriate toothpaste and advice on brushing teeth for under threes, children aged 3-6 and children over six.


Brushing your child’s teeth

  • Use a baby toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles.
  • Babies and children under three years should have teeth brushed twice daily, with a smear of toothpaste containing at least 1,000ppm fluoride.
  • Children between three and six years old should brush at least twice daily with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste containing more than 1,000ppm fluoride.
  • Find a place that is comfortable and safe for your baby, on your knee, on a changing mat, in a baby chair or highchair, in a pram or buggy or during bath time.
  • Always supervise toothbrushing and never leave a baby or small child alone with a toothbrush or toothpaste.

Choosing fluoride toothpaste

Toothpastes containing exactly 1,000ppm fluoride include:

  • ASDA Protect 0-3 Milk Teeth
  • Sainsbury’s Kids Toothpaste 0-3
  • Aquafresh Milk Teeth 0-2 years
  • Boots Essentials, Smile Kids 2-6
  • Brush Baby Apple mint
  • Colgate Kids 0-3
  • Kokomo Hello Kitty
  • Tom’s of Maine Fennel and Spearmint

Toothpastes containing 1,350 – 1,500ppm fluoride include:

  • Oral-B Pro-Expert- Stannous fluoride 1,100ppm and sodium fluoride 350ppm
  • Colgate Total – 1,450ppm fluoride
  • Sensodyne Pronamel – 1,450ppm fluoride
  • Colgate Sensitive Pro-relief- 1,450ppm fluoride
  • Corsodyl Complete protection – 1,450ppm fluoride
  • Asda Total care – 1,450ppm fluoride
  • Morrisons Savers Toothpaste – 1,350ppm fluoride
  • Aquafresh Senses watermelon, cucumber and mint toothpaste – 1,450ppm fluoride

Specialist toothpaste

Photography of Oranurse unflavoured toothpasteOranurse non-foaming unflavoured toothpaste may be beneficial for children with additional needs who have a compromised swallow function. It is also suitable for autistic children who cannot tolerate flavored toothpaste.


Photograph of Oralieve ultra mild toothpasteOralieve ultra mild toothpaste is recommended for dry mouth relief.



Step by step guide to brushing your child’s teeth

Place the head of the toothbrush against the teeth, then tilt the bristle tips to a 45-degree angle against the gum line. Move the brush in small circular movements, several times, on all the surfaces of every tooth.



Brush the outer surfaces of each tooth, upper and lower, keeping the bristles angled against the gum line.




Do this again, but on the inside surfaces of all the teeth. To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several small, circular strokes with the front part of the brush.



Brush the biting surfaces of the teeth.





Spit out after brushing and do not rinse, so that the fluoride stays on the teeth longer. Rinsing after toothbrushing washes away the fluoride contained in toothpaste which strengthens the teeth and prevents tooth decay. Toothpaste contains more fluoride than mouthwash.

If toothbrushing is difficult

If routine toothbrushing is difficult, this short video from our Oral Health team gives advice on things that might help.



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Further information

HABIT - looking after your baby's teeth

All sorts of useful advice on looking after your baby's teeth from the University of Leeds School of Dentistry

Making brushing fun for kids

The free, award-winning Brush DJ app makes brushing teeth fun for your child! Watch the video on their website to see all its features.

Making toothbrushing fun for families

The British Society of Paediatric Dentistry has brought together several useful videos from Dr Ranj, Hey Duggee and CBeebies to help with toothbrushing for kids from 0-7+.

Practical guides on children’s teeth and fluoride

Downloadable leaflets from the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry for children and parents – including advice for parents of children with autism.

Growing up with healthy teeth

This video from looks at what we can do to help our children grow up with healthy teeth.

Fluoride Varnish programme - Bradford

Find out about the Fluoride Varnish programme offered by the Oral Health team at Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust.

BDCFT Oral Health Improvement team - Bradford

Find out more about Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust's Oral Health Improvement team who are dedicated to improving the oral health of local communities in Bradford and Airedale.

Related topics

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Healthy eating

Healthy eating is important for healthy growth and development.
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Oral Health service

Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust's Oral Health team offers a range of programmes including fluoride varnish applications and a toothbrushing programme delivered in primary and special schools.
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