Caring for your child’s teeth and gums

At Family Dental Practice, we will help you and your child to have healthy mouths and an understanding of the best care for your child’s teeth. Healthy teeth are important for speech, to chew properly ensuring correct nutrition and for confidence interacting with other children.


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Decay occurs when plaque bacteria ferment and break down dietary carbohydrates or sugars to release an acid. This acid effectively dissolves the tooth structure causing cavities.

How to prevent decay in children–

  • Keep sugars in the diet to a minimum
  • Brush twice daily
  • Have fissure sealants applied on adult molar teeth
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste in children over 2 years
  • Have regular dental check-ups and always discuss any concerns with your dentist.
Healthy Diet

Decay can start soon after the baby teeth erupt in the mouth. This decay in infants results from long-term exposure to liquids containing sugars. Among these liquids are milk, formula, fruit juice and sweetened drinks.

To avoid decay in infants –

  • Don’t encourage on demand feeding and never allow a child to fall asleep with a bottle of milk/formula/juice
  • Don’t dip a soother in sugar/honey/sweetened drinks
  • When a baby starts feeding, encourage savoury foods and with any ready-prepared foods or processed foods, always read the label for any added sugars.

Carefully monitor your child’s food and drinks for any added sugars. The frequency of sugary foods is more important than the amount. Replace sugary snacks with alternatives such as carrot sticks, apples, nuts, cheese, crackers, popcorn (popcorn is usually safe from the age of 5). Fruits contain natural sugars but these sugars are less damaging than added sugars. So fruit in moderation should be part of their healthy diet.
Milk or hard cheese after a meal will help neutralise sugars or acids.


Brush your child’s teeth until 5-6 years of age and teach them how to brush well. Lead by example and let you child see you brushing your own teeth. This teaches them that oral hygiene is part of the daily routine. At 7 years of age, a child is usually old enough to brush well by themselves.


  • Brush twice daily
  • Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste from 2 years up
  • Use a soft toothbrush, brushing in small circles, covering all surfaces of the teeth


  • Help them with brushing until 7 years of age
  • Stand behind the child holding their chin upwards
  • Brush after breakfast and before bed
  • Have a regular tooth-brushing routine
  • Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste
  • Encourage your child to spit out the toothpaste rather than rinsing
  • Supervise brushing to avoid toothpaste being swallowed
  • Change your child’s toothbrush every 3 months or when the bristles get splayed
  • Praise them for good brushing


  • Slightly raised temperature, but not a fever (a fever is a temperature of 38⁰C or above)
  • Rash on their face
  • Reddened gums – their gums may be swollen or tender
  • Excessive dribbling – this may cause a rash on the chin
  • Poor appetite – your baby may be reluctant to eat as result of sore gums
  • Chewing or biting – your baby may chew on their toys or fingers
  • Restlessness and Irritability – the pain of teething may cause them to cry
  • Disturbed sleep


  • Teething gels
  • Teething rings (never cool a teething ring in the freezer or tie a teething ring around your baby’s neck)
  • Paracetamol / Ibuprofen – carefully follow the recommended dosage
  • Cool drinks to soothe the gums
  • Distraction – playing with your baby distracts from the pain of teething
  • Wipe dribble frequently from your baby’s chin

Trauma to children’s teeth is common, usually due to playing/cycling/fighting/falls or other sports. In children with adult teeth, a mouthguard should be worn during contact sports. If you think your child’s tooth could be damaged, you should seek advice immediately from a dentist.

If an adult tooth is knocked out completely –

  1. Keep calm! Make sure it is an adult tooth. Baby teeth should not be put back in.
  2. Find the tooth and pick it up by the crown (the whiter part). Avoid touching the root.
  3. If the tooth is dirty, wash it briefly (10 seconds) using milk, saline solution or cold running water.
  4. Replant the tooth using the teeth at either side of the gap as a guide to the position. Once positioned, the person should bite on a handkerchief to hold the tooth in place until the dentist splints it in place.
  5. If the tooth cannot be replanted immediately, it can be carried either inside the injured person’s mouth between the teeth and the side of the cheek, or in milk.
Continuing Dental Care

It is important to encourage a positive attitude to visiting the dentist. Before the visit, talk to your child about what to expect and build excitement as well as understanding about the visit.
At Family Dental Practice we try to make the experience for children as positive and fun as possible in a friendly environment. We welcome children of all ages and we always take a gentle approach, keeping the visits as easy as possible for them. Having a positive experience as a child can have a lifelong impact on the person’s dental health.

  • Encourage savoury snacks
  • Use a straw for any sugary drinks/smoothies/juices
  • To reward your child, give them stickers/comics/pens or paints instead of treats such as chocolate or cakes.
  • Use a gold star chart for good brushing/healthy eating

Contact Us

Rosecourt, Muddy Hill, Mallow, Co. Cork

Tel. +353 (0)22 53717


Opening Hours

Monday 9.30am – 5.30pm
Tuesday 9.30am – 5.30pm
Wednesday 9.30am – 5.30pm
Thursday 9.30am – 5.30pm
Friday 9.30am – 5.30pm
Saturday Closed

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