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Children and families

Oral health for children and families

Information about oral health for children and families.

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Oral health promoting habits are established in the early years. Parents are key to influencing the child's oral health habits and beliefs particularly those of pre-school children, who are dependent on their parents to ensure their oral health needs are met.

Information for adult oral health can be found at:

Emergency Dental Treatment 

Emergency out of hours treatment is available through a referral from NHS 24. Following an assessment, you may be given an appointment to attend the out of hour's service at Glasgow Dental Hospital and School.

NHS 24
Tel: 111
NHS 24

How do I prevent my child from developing tooth decay?

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The most effective protective behaviours like tooth brushing and diet will help to reduce the chance of your child suffering tooth decay. 

For children who already have tooth decay this will limit further development of decay.

Regular tooth brushing

Brush your child's teeth at least twice daily, in the morning after breakfast and before going to bed at night

Use the correct amount and concentration of toothpaste depending on your child's age:

  • Children under 3 years old: use a small smear of paste containing not less than 1000 ppm fluoride.
  • Children 3-6 years: use a pea-sized amount of paste containing not less than 1000 ppm fluoride.
  • Children 7 years old or over: as above but use paste containing 1350-1500 ppm fluoride.

Spit out excess toothpaste but do not rinse with water or mouthwash

Supervise your child until 7 years old or until competent to self brush

Do not eat or drink after brushing at night

Healthy diet

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  • Food and drinks containing sugar should be kept to a minimum and restricted to mealtimes. The more often teeth are exposed to sugar the more likely they are to decay.
  • Between meal snacks should be nutritious and should be free from added sugar and salt, e.g. chopped fruit, cheese.
  • Milk and water are the only drinks that do not cause tooth decay.
  • Discourage sugary, fizzy drinks or squashes (including sugar free varieties) and never put them in a feeding bottle, especially not at bedtime.
  • Introduce a cup at six months and aim to have your child no longer drinking from a feeding bottle by their first birthday.
  • Check food labels for hidden sugars. If sugar or alternative name for sugar i.e. sucrose, glucose, fructose, dextrose, maltose, honey and syrup appear in the list of ingredients restrict to mealtimes.
  • Ask the GP, Pharmacist or Dentist for sugar free medicine. If there is no sugar free options try to give the medicine at mealtimes, and avoid giving last thing at night, if possible.

Dental registration and attendance

  • Children should be registered with a dentist from birth
  • You can get free dental treatment if you are under 18 years old, or are aged 18 and in full-time education 
  • For details of NHS dentists in the East Renfrewshire area please visit Dental services: online map


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Childsmile is a national programme to improve children's oral health and tackle oral health inequalities.

Children are linked into the programme via Childsmile Nursery and Childsmile School dental packs and supervised tooth brushing programmes is available in all East Renfrewshire nurseries and Primary 1 and Primary 2 priority schools. Childsmile Practice provides a child-centred NHS dental service.

Information on East Renfrewshire schools can be found at:

If you are interested in finding out more about Childsmile or anything else on this page, please contact the Health Improvement Team.

Health Improvement Team
HSCP Headquarters
Eastwood Health and Care Centre
Drumby Crescent
G76 7HN
Tel: 0141 451 0757

For more health information and advice from official dental associations, please visit:

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