What to do
Brush your child's teeth twice a day. No more, no less. Get into a toothbrushing routine. If necessary, withhold a fun thing (like a video) until teeth are brushed. Do it yourself until your child is old enough to tie his own shoelaces.
Try and use a children's toothpaste with fluoride. It works. Ensure your child eats no more than five times a day – three meals and two snacks.
Do allow treats. If your child likes chocolate buttons, give them as a pudding, after a meal. The treat should be eaten in one go – ten squares of chocolate at once is ten times better than ten squares spaced throughout the day.
Wean babies onto water or milk. If your child has already got a taste for juice, switch to well-diluted `Toothkind' at mealtimes only. Use a straw, which delivers the juice to the back of the mouth where it does less damage.
If you do nothing else for your child's teeth, find a good paediatric dentist – someone who understands teeth and children.
What not to do
Never brush after an `acid challenge' – if you brush straight away after a drink of cola or juice, you're just rubbing the acid over the teeth. Rinse the mouth and wait an hour before brushing.
Don't let your child graze or snack regularly, as this ensures the mouth is constantly coated with sugar or acid and stops saliva from neutralising acid.
Don't give sticky things if you can help it – chewy sweets and lollipops are worse for teeth than chocolate and biscuits.
Don't give babies much baby fruit juice, and never give them juice in a bottle.
Don't give older children cola (or even diet cola). It's acidic, and delivers empty calories. Don't let children drink anything except water after brushing at night.
Don't accept second-rate dentistry. Ask questions! Demand advice! If that fails, find a new dentist.
More health tips from Junior:
How to cope with a bedwetting child
Five ways to nurture a healthy back