As a model, Jodie Kidd’s winning smile has graced magazine covers all over the world. She’s always looked after her teeth, and is determined her 5-year-old son Indio follows suit.

But with so many headlines warning us about the damaging effects of sugar-laden diets, and let’s be honest – teeth-brushing isn’t usually top of kids’ favourite activities (not to mention the joy of visiting the dentist!), looking after little’uns dental hygiene can be a challenge.

Jodie, 38, has joined forces with the Big Family Brush Up dental campaign. Here, she tells us what it’s all about, and how she gets Indio to look after his teeth.

Jodie Kidd smiling in front of a mirror (Denplan/PA)
Winning smile: Jodie Kidd (Denplan/PA)

When did you start Indio’s oral health routine?

“As soon as his first little cute tooth came along. I was there with the tiny toothbrush cleaning that all important first tooth,” Jodie recalls.

“As a parent, you have to look after your children and teeth are a massive part of that. Even though they lose them at an early age and get their adult teeth, it’s important to ensure they’re learning how to care for their teeth by mirroring you and that it’s ingrained into their daily routine from an early age.”

Do you ever have problems getting him to clean his teeth?

Jodie Kidd's son Indio brushes his teeth (Denplan/PA)
Brilliant brusher Indio (Denplan/PA)

“Because I introduced oral health care to Indio at such an early age, and he watches me do it, cleaning our teeth is normal practice for him. It’s just part of his routine. When he finishes his supper, he goes upstairs and has a nice bath, brushes his teeth and then it’s story time.

“There have been a few times when I’ve forgotten and he’s got into bed and said, ‘I haven’t brushed my teeth yet’. It’s been part of his bed and bath routine since he was a wee nipper.”

Do you let your son have sugary treats?

Close up view of a pile of Smarties (John Walton/PA)
Too many sweet treats can damage teeth (John Walton/PA)

“Kids love chocolate and sweets and I would never deny Indio – he’s a 5-year-old little boy, and if he does well at school his treat might be to get an ice-cream or a packet of whatever sweets. It’s a treat, a real treat. It’s all a balance.”

How often do you and Indio go to the dentist, and is he frightened?

Jodie and Indio with a toothbrush in front of a mirror (Denplan/PA)
Happy dental patients Jodie and Indio (Denplan/PA)

“We go to the dentist every six months as a family, and Indio’s not frightened,” says Jodie. “I go every couple of months to the hygienist, and Indio’s always come in with me, so it’s just a normal thing. I haven’t had anything traumatic (yet!), so it’s always been a nice thing to do and just part of life.

“I’ve always been very conscious of caring for my teeth. I’ve spent most of my life as a model, and having a good smile and looking after my teeth has always been really important for my career.

“I seriously damaged my two front teeth in a riding incident – a horse’s head banged into my mouth – and I had to have veneers. Not wearing a mouth guard when doing sports is a big regret.”

What are your tips for helping children brush their teeth well?

Indio with his favourite Disney Cars Lightening McQueen toothbrush (Denplan/PA)
Indio with his favourite toothbrush (Denplan/PA)

“We all use electric toothbrushes and Indio has a Disney Cars Lightning McQueen one. By using that, and some nice tasting children’s fluoride toothpaste, the process is age-appropriate.

“Now he’s 5, he’s starting to brush independently, but I still go round his mouth afterwards with the brush to check he’s reached everywhere, praising him for how well he’s done.”

10 Big Family Brush Up dentists’ brushing tips

1. Get children to brush as soon as they wake up, not after breakfast. Tooth enamel is softer for up to an hour after eating or drinking sugary or acidic things and can be damaged if teeth are brushed.

2. In the evening, get children to brush at least an hour after dinner.

3. Choose a fun toothbrush with their favourite character on.

4. Use a suitable fluoride toothpaste for their age: under 3 years – 1000ppm; over 3 years – 1350-1500ppm.

5.  Get children to fill in a  brushing chart.

6. Brush to a special song:  BrushDJ  plays two minutes of music from your existing playlists and is a great way to get children to brush for the recommended time.

7. Children should brush for two minutes but they often rush, so some teeth surfaces are missed. Get your child to imagine dividing their mouth into four main sections and brush each section for 30 seconds.

8. If you think they’ve missed any teeth, follow up by brushing their teeth yourself.

9. To help reach the back teeth, get your child to pretend to be a lion or dinosaur and give you a big roar. This helps them open their mouth wide for you.

10. Get children to spit the toothpaste out after brushing but don’t rinse. Rinsing washes away the protective fluoride.