By now most children will have the majority of their permanent teeth. As their independence increases so does the risk of dental problems. Lifestyle choices made now can influence their oral health. They should be visiting the dentist regularly.

Visit Devon Doctors to help find a local NHS dentist. 

Tooth brushing and toothpaste

Tooth brushing with fluoride toothpaste is essential to keep teeth and gums healthy and is one of the most effective ways of preventing tooth decay.

  • Always brush twice a day, before bedtime and at one other time in the day (for most people this is at breakfast time).
  • Choose a suitable toothbrush:
  • A Manual toothbrush should have a small head with soft/medium bristles.
  • A rechargeable electric toothbrush with a small round oscillating head (battery brushes are not as effective).
  • Keep an electric toothbrush fully charged.
  • Toothbrushes/heads should be changed every 3 months or sooner if the bristles are splayed. They should also be replaced after illness (e.g colds and viruses).
  • After use toothbrushes should be well rinsed and left to dry naturally (away from toilet facilities).
  • A pea-sized amount of toothpaste containing 1,350 to 1,500ppm fluoride is the most effective.
  • After brushing spit out excess toothpaste. Do not rinse your mouth with water or use mouthwash after brushing.

Interdental Cleaning

At this age, interdental cleaning should be a part of the daily oral care routine. Even the most efficient tooth brushing technique would not clean between the teeth. The use of floss or interdental brushes reaches these areas.

Key Statistics:

  • In 2013, nearly a half (46 percent) of 15-year-olds and a third (34 percent) of 12-year-olds had "obvious decay experience" in their permanent teeth. A fifth of 12 and 15-year-olds (22 percent and 19 percent respectively) reported experiencing difficulty eating in the past three months.
  • More than a third (35 percent) of 12-year-olds and more than a quarter (28 percent) of 15-year-olds reported being embarrassed to smile or laugh due to the condition of their teeth.
  • Overall, 58 percent of 12-year-olds and 45 percent of 15-year-olds reported that their daily life had been affected by problems with their teeth and mouth in the past three months.
  • More than a third (35 percent) of the parents of 15-year-olds reported that their child's oral health had impacted on family life in the last six months; 23 percent of the parents of 15-year-olds took time off work because of their child's oral health in that period.


Smoking most smokers try their first cigarette before the age of 18. As well as being bad for general health it can lead to tooth staining, gum disease, tooth loss, and in more severe cases mouth cancer

Oral piercings have become a form of self-expression. Risks involved with oral piercings include local infection by the piercing or even endocarditis which is an inflammation of the heart valves or tissues. Other risks include bleeding, pain, swelling, chipped teeth, gum recession, problems with chewing and swallowing. Before having any part of your mouth pierced, you should seek advice from your dentist.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is an incredibly common virus that can be spread through sexual contact and effect the mouth. Find out more on the NHS website