Oral Health for children

Children brushing teeth

Oral health affects not only general health – it has an influence on social and psychological factors, influencing self-esteem, the way people look, speak and socialise. Disorders of the teeth and mouth result in pain, disturbed sleep, poor concentration and loss of work /school hours. It is preventable.

Baby teeth matter – they hold places for adult teeth. Good cleaning habits need to start young – as soon as teeth come through. Enrol your child as early as possible for friendly, professional care.

5 tips for a healthy smile

  1. BRUSH TWICE A DAY. Use a soft toothbrush. Use full strength fluoride toothpaste; children under six need only a smear of fluoride toothpaste and children over six, a pea-sized amount. Supervise young children and teach them to spit out, not rinse or swallow.
  2. HAVE REGULAR DENTAL CHECK-UPS … THEY ARE FREE! Children are entitled to free basic oral health care until their 18th birthday. It is important to enrol your child as early as possible – to enrol just call 0800 Talk Teeth (0800 825 953).
  3. LIFT THE LIP EVERY MONTH and CHECK YOUR CHILD’S TEETH and GUMS. Ask your Well Child /Tamariki Ora provider to show you how.
  4. CHOOSE HEALTHY, TEETH FRIENDLY SNACKS. These include bread, cheese, raw vegetables, unsweetened /unsalted popcorn, yoghurt.
  5. DRINK WATER or MILK. Breastfeed your baby exclusively until they are ready for extra food (around six months), then continue to breastfeed until at least 12 months of age. The best drinks for your child’s teeth are water or milk.

Useful websites

For more information call 0800 Talk Teeth (0800 825 583) or go to www.letstalkteeth.co.nz


Ministry of Health, (2009). It’s easy to protect your family’s smile. Wellington: New Zealand. Ministry of Health (2006), Good Oral Health for all, for Life: The Strategic Vision for Oral Health in New Zealand. Wellington: New Zealand.

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