1 in 5 2-year-olds have never visited the dentist, research shows

Our latest research, interviewing over 2,000 parents, has highlighted a worrying trend with regards to early years dental care. One in five two-year-olds have never been taken to the dentist, despite national advice telling parents to schedule a visit much sooner.

This surprising insight could explain why so many children are suffering from severe dental hygiene issues at such a young age. A separate Health and Social Care Information Centre report found that 31% of five-year-old children already suffer from decay in their primary teeth, an issue that can be controlled by regular visits to the dentist and tooth brushing.

With Government-funded initiatives aimed at tackling the younger years obesity crisis, parents are now far more educated on healthy eating habits. However, even those that avoid sugar-fuelled drinks and sweets need to brush their teeth and visit the dentist. You can’t afford to skip your dental check-ups, regardless of how much information is at your disposal on the internet. It has also been suggested that the wide variety of parenting blogs available online often display contradicting advice that can leave parents confused.

We asked parents what issues came between their children and a dentist appointment, and almost half (48%) stated that dental surgery opening times were problematic.

When should you take your child to the dentist?

As early as possible! Take them to your own appointments if you can. This will help curious minds learn more about dental care and will help to get them into a routine of visiting your local surgery. It can be quite daunting for youngsters to visit somewhere new, especially if they’re picking up on their parents’ own anxieties. So ease them in gently and think of it as an educational experience.

By introducing them to dental care at an early stage, you could help to prevent future problems. 11% of parents who responded to our survey said that tantrums were one of the barriers they faced when trying to take their children to the dentist. Focus on educating them on the importance of getting their teeth seen to, and avoid telling your own horror stories of lost teeth and dental disasters.

Children should start going for their own check-ups when their teeth first start to develop, this is usually between five and seven months. Protect your child’s smile by taking them for their very own check-up and seeking professional advice as early as possible.

When should you start brushing your child’s teeth?

Before your child’s teeth begin to show, usually after around four to six months, you don’t need to brush their gums. However, you can clean their gums with a wet cloth after feedings to get them used to a dental hygiene routine and to create a clean environment for their new teeth to grow into. Once any of their teeth are showing through, you can begin to brush them with a very

You  should start brushing as soon as they poke through, you can buy toothpastes specifically made for young children and you should use one that contains fluoride. Just ensure you’re on hand to supervise and that they aren’t swallowing the foam.

Brushing your children’s teeth doesn’t mean that you can avoid visiting the dentist. Whilst you may think you’re doing an efficient job, which we’re sure you are, a dentist can cast their professional eye on the situation and find any other issues that may occur.

If you would like more information on early years dental health, please consult our Kid’s Club pages.