Milton Keynes 0-19 Service


Teeth begin to develop before birth and then start to push through the gums between the ages of six months and one year (this process is called eruption). Children’s teeth usually start to fall out when they are about six years old. They are replaced by a set of 32 permanent teeth, which are also called secondary or adult teeth.

Looking after your child’s teeth

  • Your child should brush their teeth for at least two minutes twice a day; once just before bedtime and at least one other time during the day.
  • Encourage your child to spit out excess toothpaste, but not to rinse with water.
  • Supervising tooth brushing helps support your child.
  • You can brush your child’s teeth yourself or watch your child if they brush their own teeth.
  • From the age of seven to eight, children should be able to brush their own teeth, but it's still a good idea to watch them now and again.
  • Replace your child’s toothbrush every three months and everyone should have their own toothbrush that only they use to prevent infection being transferred.

Taking your child to the dentist

  • NHS dental care for children is free.
  • You should take your child to the dentist when their first milk teeth appear. This is so they become used to going to the dentist. Your dentist can help prevent decay and identify any oral health problems at an early stage.
  • Take your child for regular dental check-ups as advised by the dentist.

You can find your nearest dentist on NHS Choices. Visit NHS Choices

Tooth decay

Tooth decay occurs when bacteria in the mouth breaks down sugar to cause an acid attack, which then dissolves the teeth.

Brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste can protect your teeth

Teeth are at most risk at night because there is less saliva in the mouth to protect them.

Tips for healthy teeth

Being careful about how much sugar your child eats can help reduce tooth decay and keep your teeth healthy.

  • It’s best to eat food and drinks containing sugar at meal times
  • Lots of food contains sugar – it’s not just the obvious things like sweets and cakes. Cereals, plain biscuits and yoghurts also contain a lot of sugar
  • Dilute fruit juices and squashes with water
  • Be careful with what you’re drinking; fizzy drinks can cause the wearing of teeth (known as erosion) because they have a high acid content and milk shakes contain a lot of sugar too.

Smoking and alcohol

Smoking and drinking alcohol is harmful to the body as a whole and to your mouth.

  • Smoking can lead to stained teeth and is bad breath
  • Lots of food contains sugar – it’s not just the obvious things like sweets and cakes. Cereals, plain biscuits and yoghurts also contain a lot of sugar
  • People who smoke are seven times more likely to have serious gum disease which can lead to loss of the bone that holds your teeth in meaning they might drop out.
  • Drinking alcohol regularly can damage your teeth by causing erosion which leads to decay and painful sensitive teeth.

Teeth grinding

Teeth grinding and jaw clenching (also called bruxism) is often related to stress and anxiety.
Most people who grind their teeth and clench their jaw aren't aware they're doing it. It often happens when you’re asleep or while you’re concentrating or under stress.
If you worried about teeth grinding, you should speak to your dentist.

You can also find out more information by visiting NHS Choices


People need braces for lots of reasons. They can help you to bite correctly, eat more comfortably and to care for your teeth and gums more easily.
Braces can straighten crooked, crowded or protruding teeth, close gaps between teeth, and correct the bite of the teeth so the top and bottom teeth meet when you close your mouth.
Braces are usually more successful in children and teenagers which is why a lot of people have them while they are younger.

Visit NHS Choices for more information about braces

This information has been provided by our school nurses and NHS Choices