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Happy Teeth

Happy Teeth website (no longer updated)

Happy Teeth Toothbrushing Video

This video aims to provide parents and carers of young children with some basic advice on when to start brushing their child’s teeth and how to do it. The recommendations are in line with best practice in Ireland 2014.


Healthy teeth are important for your child’s overall health and wellbeing – they are essential for eating, speaking, smiling.

Developing good eating and drinking habits that are low in sugar, and brushing twice a day, are the two best things you can do to help your child avoid tooth decay.

This video aims to provide parents and carers of young children with some basic advice on when to start brushing their child’s teeth and how to do it.

The foundations for good oral health are laid during your child’s early years. Even before the first teeth appear, it is a good idea to gently clean your child’s mouth and gums with a clean face cloth or cotton cloth. This lets your child get used to having his or her mouth cleaned.

Choose a time that is convenient for you, and when the child is relaxed– like bath time or after a feed. The important thing is to make it routine and fun.

The appearance of the first baby tooth – usually at around 6 months of age - is an exciting milestone and is the ideal time to introduce toothbrushing into your child’s routine.

When the first tooth appears you can use a small, soft toothbrush with rounded bristles.

Hold the toothbrush like a pen and gently place the brush on the tooth and just make little circular motions with the brush.

You can brush your child’s teeth anywhere – it doesn’t have to be in the bathroom.

You can brush with your child lying down …

Or you can hold your child on your lap, and use one hand to hold his or her lip and the other to brush – in this position you can see into your child’s mouth better, which is really important as your child gets older and the back teeth start to come up.

When you first start brushing your child’s teeth, don’t use any toothpaste, unless you have been advised to do so by a dentist. This is because very young children can’t spit out, and so they’ll swallow it all.

You can introduce toothpaste from age 2 years – use fluoride toothpaste with 1,000 parts per million fluoride (you’ll see it on the box or tube as ppm F). Use just a small pea-size amount and encourage your child to spit out after brushing.

Store toothpaste out of reach of young children, and never leave your young child alone with a toothbrush or toothpaste.

As your child gets older, he or she will want to brush by themselves, and that’s great, but you will need to continue helping them to brush right up until they are seven, and maybe even longer!

For reluctant brushers, a toothbrushing chart and stickers can help to encourage them to brush. You’ll find brushing charts on our Happy Teeth website.

Giving your child the habit of brushing twice a day, morning and night, will help him or her to enjoy healthy, happy teeth.

And remember, PERSEVERE! This habit learned early is a habit that should keep for a lifetime.

Happy Teeth Sugary Drinks Video

This video aims to provide parents and carers of young children with some basic advice about sugary drinks. The recommendations are in line with best practice in Ireland 2014.


Hello, my name is Eimear and I’d like to talk to you about drinks for children.

There is a bewildering range of drinks available, many of which are marketed specifically for children from infancy onwards.
Many of these drinks are high in sugar.

We have known for years that sugars are bad for our teeth. But all too often, we think of sugars as sweets or table sugar, and don’t realise that the drinks we put into our shopping trollies every week could be damaging not just our children’s teeth but their overall health as well.

There is evidence now that sugar-sweetened drinks are linked to childhood obesity as well as to tooth decay. Both these conditions are a serious concern for our children.

In Ireland, 1 in 5 children are overweight or obese and 2 in 5 children have tooth decay at age 5.

Many parents do not realise how much sugar is in the drinks – even the apparently healthy ones – that they give their children. For example: This glass of 100% pure orange juice contains the equivalent of 4 teaspoons of sugar. And that’s a pure juice, no added sugars.

This can of cola has the equivalent of 7 teaspoons of sugar. Let me show you what that looks like. Would you drink this – even with bubbles?

Sports drinks are also high in sugar.

Many children have more than one type of sweet drink a day, so it’s easy to see how their sugar intake from drinks can clock up.

But what about “sugar free” drinks? Surely they’re OK for children?

These drinks can still be quite acidic, and can damage the enamel surface of your child’s teeth. Dentists call this acid damage “erosion” and it is irreversible. Erosion can leave the teeth looking very worn and feeling sensitive.

Dentists have always recommended water and milk as the best drinks for children.

And now other health experts agree – water and milk are the best drinks for children at any time.

But if your child has become accustomed to sweet drinks, it’s going to take a little bit of time and effort to wean them off. Here are some tips to help you.

Make the change as a family – everyone will benefit from drinking fewer sweet drinks and more water.

Gradually increase the dilution of juices and squashes. The squash makers recommend 4 parts water to one part squash, but that’s still quite sweet so add more water. Remember, your aim is to replace sweet drinks with water.

Gradually reduce the number of sweet drinks a day - limit them to meal times. Give your child water or milk between meals.

Banish the bubbles: dentists would prefer if nobody ever touched a fizzy drink. If you can’t banish fizzy completely, save it for the weekend – and keep the dentist happy by having it with food to reduce the risk of erosion.

Current healthy eating recommendations only allow one small glass a day of 100% pure juice to count as one towards your 5-a-day intake of fruit and vegetables – so only one a day is OK. It is far healthier to eat the whole fruit not just for your teeth but for your overall health.

Just one important point to remember – Best Practice for Infant Feeding in Ireland emphasises that infants do not need fruit juices.

And finally, make sure that everyone who looks after your child knows what a threat sweet drinks are to your child’s health.

Oral Health Services Research Centre

University Dental School & Hospital, Wilton, Cork T12 E8YV, Ireland.