Taking care of your mouth, teeth and gums with good oral and dental hygiene can help to prevent bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease.

Sadly every 10 minutes a child in England has a tooth removed. Tooth removal is the most common reason children have a general anaesthetic. This can be a frightening and upsetting experience for both the child and their parents or carer.

The good news is that correct dental care can almost entirely prevent:

  • painful tooth decay
  • infections
  • distressing extractions

View our Children's Oral Health Improvement Strategy - 2019 to 2024.

Oral health top tips

Brushing your child's teeth is the most important thing you can do to keep them healthy.

Follow our simple tips to help your child get into good oral hygiene habits:

  • start to brush your child’s teeth as soon as they appear with a smear of fluoride toothpaste on a baby toothbrush
  • brush their teeth for them and supervise brushing until at least the age of 7
  • brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, in the morning and before bedtime
  • children don't need to use special children's toothpaste; children of all ages can use family toothpaste, as long as it contains 1,350ppm to 1,500ppm fluoride
  • encourage your child to spit out the toothpaste, but not rinse
  • for children under 3 use a smear of toothpaste; for those over 3 use a pea-sized blob
  • try to reduce the amount of sugar your child consumes
  • sugary drinks are particularly harmful to teeth, so encourage your child to drink milk or water
  • use sugar-free medicines where possible
  • register your child with a dentist and take them for regular check-ups - remember, NHS dental care is free for children
  • your dentist can paint fluoride varnish onto your child’s teeth to strengthen and protect them, and it’s free – ask your dentist for details

NHS dentists

Access to NHS dentists is not a Local Authority service, but oral health is an important Public Health issue. Whilst we cannot provide more dentists in York, we can help to prevent poor oral health.

Search for a local NHS dentist

Dealing with toothache

Toothache is painful and upsetting, especially in children. If your child has toothache that lasts more than 2 days, it is important that you see a dentist.

There are things that you can do to ease it while you wait for an appointment. See advice on dealing with toothache (NHS).

Children's oral health resources

Helping your child to brush their teeth can be a challenge, but it’s worth persevering.

There are a range of resources and information available to support you and your child with tooth brushing and general dental hygiene:

Resources for schools

Also see

Public Health

Station Rise, West Offices, York, YO1 6GA

Telephone: 01904 553866