Tips For Brushing Your Child’s Teeth

Top tips for brushing baby teeth at any age:

  • Brush your child’s ‘baby’ teeth twice a day, every day.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste.
  • Do not let your child rinse their mouth out after brushing. Spit but don’t rinse!
  • Regular routine is very important in terms of your child accepting and getting used to the brushing.

For specific advice on brushing your child’s teeth, it might be helpful to break the advice up depending on your child’s age.

Here is advice for infants/toddlers and then older children:

 

girl-brushing-teeth

Brushing Advice For Infants

You should get into a routine of brushing your baby’s teeth as soon as the teeth begin to come through.  By beginning early, you are not only helping those teeth that are present, but also helping the child get into a routine for life.

Get cleaning teeth as soon as they begin to erupt

  • At first, it may be difficult to use a toothbrush.  If you are having difficulty, try using a piece of clean cloth or gauze in the early days.  Use the cloth with a little smear of toothpaste added.  Rub this around the teeth twice a day.  This will help your baby get used to the flavors and feeling of the teeth being cleaned.
  • Whenever it becomes possible, i.e. your baby will open enough, introduce the use of a baby toothbrush.
  • Add a little smear of toothpaste to the brush. Gently brush around all the baby teeth, and around all the sides of the teeth.  Once the teeth are cleaned, allow your baby/child to spit out.  Do not rinse out the mouth as this clears away the beneficial fluoride!
  • Your baby may resist this interference with their mouths at first, but gentle persuasion and persistence are needed.  The sooner the baby accepts this as part of their routine, the better for all!
  • At first, cradle the baby in front of you to brush their teeth.  As they get older, stand them in front of you while brushing the teeth.
  • As the baby grows older, introduce some responsibility by allowing them to help brush their teeth.  Continually encourage and praise as they learn how to brush their teeth.

 

Training Children The Right Way

"Image of children brushing their teeth"

Getting into a daily brushing routine is very important for kids

Continue with the routine started when your child was a baby.  Brush twice daily using fluoride toothpaste.

  • As the child grows, standing behind them with one hand holding their chin and the other hand brushing their teeth may work best.
  • Use a soft-headed small toothbrush for brushing baby teeth.  Apply a smear of toothpaste. Use gentle circular motion, not a scrubbing motion to brush the teeth.
  • Obviously, as more teeth come through, make sure all the teeth are getting cleaned.  Once the teeth are brushed, allow your baby/child to spit out.  Do not rinse out the mouth as this clears away the fluoride!
  • Use disclosing tablets to help educate your child on where to brush.
  • Ensure that each surface; top, front and back of the teeth are cleaned.  By focusing on one corner of the mouth at a time, there is less chance of missing some teeth.
  • Allow your child to brush their own teeth as they become able.  However, you will need to supervise your child’s brushing until the age of about 7.  This is important to make sure that they are brushing properly and effectively.

Finally, encouragement and perseverance are necessary to ensure your child accepts brushing as part of their daily routine.  Introduce fun and praise as part of the routine! As always, if you have any questions about caring for your child’s teeth, ask your dentist.

 

Which toothpaste is best for kids?

Fluoride is the most important ingredient of a child’s toothpaste. So ensure whatever child toothpaste you use contains fluoride. Your child will need different strengths of fluoride in the toothpaste as they grow. This strength is measured in ppm (parts per million) and is shown on the label of toothpastes.

"Brushing baby teeth"

Worn toothbrushes: When brushing baby teeth you will need to replace the toothbrush every 3 months!

Generally speaking:

  • Use a toothpaste with at least 1000ppm until your child is 3 years-of-age.
  • After three, use a toothpaste with 1350-1500 ppm.

Safety notes:

  • Use only a small amount of toothpaste.
  • Ensure your child does not swallow the toothpaste. Supervise brushing until age 7.
  • Check with your dentist if in doubt. They may recommend a stronger/weaker toothpaste depending on your child and the amount of fluoride in the water in your area.

 

Which toothbrush to use?

Kid’s toothbrushes come in all colors, themes, shapes and sizes now. This is great as the brushes can engage the child’s imagination. Use whatever your type child likes and is drawn to use, so long as you follow these guidelines:

  • Use the appropriate size for your child’s age, as marked on the packaging.
  • Use brushes with small heads.
  • Use brushes with soft bristles.

Children’s toothbrushes need to be replaced at least every 3 months. Replace sooner if the bristles become frayed, as is often the case as kids may tend to chew the brush!

 

Summary

Remember that you should begin brushing baby teeth as they start to grow into your child’s mouth.  Make tooth-brushing a part of your child’s daily routine.  This will give the obvious short-term benefits of a healthy mouth.  It will also increase acceptance of tooth-brushing as your child grows, thus making things easier for you!   Return to the main page on dental health for kids here.

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