TIPS FOR good oral health for primary school children

Use low fluoride toothpaste from 18 months to six years of age

  • Use a small pea-size amount of toothpaste or no toothpaste
  • Encourage children to spit out toothpaste, do not swallow it or rinse with water. Not rinsing keeps a small amount of fluoride in the mouth which protects teeth.
  • Spitting out can be difficult for small children. You may need to show them how to do it.

Brush teeth and along the gum line twice a day

  • Brushing teeth removes plaque (the build-up on teeth) that causes tooth decay.
  • Brush all surfaces of the teeth and gums twice a day (after breakfast and before bed).
  • Gently brush in small circles along the gum line.
  • Choose a toothbrush that is designed for children. It should have a small head and soft bristles.
  • Children do not have the dexterity and will need an adult to help them brush their teeth properly until about 7 or 8 years of age. Let your child have a go first before you brush their teeth. Give lots of encouragement.

Water is the best drink for preschoolers

  • Rather than juices, fizzy drinks or flavoured milk give your children water to drink.
  • Plain milk is also a healthy drink for children.

Limit sugary foods

  • Limit foods high in added sugars. Eating foods with high levels of sugar causes tooth decay.
  • Avoid using foods as incentives or rewards for good behaviour.
  • Healthy meals and snacks are important for healthy teeth


  • Enjoy a wide variety of healthy foods every day including fruits, vegetables, grains and cereals, dairy, lean meat, fish and eggs.
  • Fruits and vegetables are an important part of healthy eating.
  • Milk, yoghurt and cheese (and some dairy alternatives) are excellent sources of calcium, which is good for teeth. Choose dairy products that do not have added sugar.
  • Many common foods and snacks have sugar in them. Eating foods with high levels of sugar causes tooth decay.
  • Role model healthy eating as children learn about food by watching their parents and other family members.

Encourage children who are still sucking their fingers, thumbs or using dummies to stop

  • Most children stop sucking their fingers or thumbs between two and four years of age.
  • To help your child to break the habit, try encouragement and distractions.Offer a reward for a period without sucking. You could mark progress on a chart or calendar.
  • Children can easily drift back into old habits. Recognise that it may take several attempts to break the habit completely.

Children should have an oral health assessment by 2 years of age

  • By the time children are at preschool, they should have had an oral health assessment. If not, make an appointment with your local dental clinic.
  • Find out more about free or low-cost public dental services available to children.

See your dentist if your child damages their teeth

  • If your child knocks out a baby tooth, do not put it back in place. This can damage the adult tooth underneath the gum. If concerned see your dentist.
  • Always seek immediate advice from your dentist if an adult tooth is knocked out or damaged.

When should children have their first dental visit?

  • Bring your children with you during your Star Dental appointments. Let them explore, roam around and watch you being treated. This will familiarise them with the enviroment and make them more comfortable when it comes to their first visit.