Children’s hands and mouths are different than adults. They need to use toothbrushes designed for children. Both adults and children should use brushes with soft, rounded bristles for gentle cleaning. It’s advisable to use a new toothbrush about every three months. (We also recommend children’s Sonicare toothbrushes, they are very helpful in providing your child the best care possible.)
Wipe infant’s teeth and gums gently with a moist, soft cloth or gauze square. As babies grow, use a child’s toothbrush with a small, pea-sized dab of fluoride-free toothpaste. By age 2 or 3 begin to teach your child to brush. You will still need to brush their teeth after they are finished. Dentists and hygienists often advise children to use a gentle, short, back and forth motion to remove plaque. When children are older they can switch to this method below:
- Hold the brush at an angle (45 degrees) towards the teeth and gums. Move the brush back and forth with short strokes, about a half tooth wide.
- Brush the inside and outside surfaces of each tooth, top and bottom.
- Hold the brush flat on top of the teeth and brush the chewing surfaces.
- Gently brush the tongue to remove debris.
Floss between teeth daily.
When to begin brushing?
To increase acceptance, it is important to begin cleaning your child’s gums at an early age. Even before your child’s teeth erupt, begin cleaning the mouth with a washcloth or gauze square after feedings. As your child’s teeth erupt, you can begin to use a soft child’s toothbrush. You should use just a pea-size amount of non-fluoride toothpaste (like Baby Orajel) until your child is able to spit the toothpaste out. At this stage, which is usually around age 3, have your child brush with fluoride toothpaste. Because children don’t have the dexterity to brush their teeth effectively until they are older (approximately age 7), the caregiver should brush the child’s teeth a second time.
For most toddlers, getting them to brush their teeth can be quite a challenge. Some suggestions for making tooth brushing less of a battle can include:
- Let him brush your teeth at the same time.
- Let him pick out a few toothbrushes with his favorite characters and give him a choice of which one he wants to use each time (this will give him some feeling of control over the situation).
- Let her brush her own teeth first (you will likely have to “help out”).
- Read some children’s books about tooth brushing.
- Have everyone brush their teeth at the same time.
- To help your child understand the importance of brushing, it can be sometimes fun and helpful to let him or her eat or drink something that will ‘stain’ the teeth temporarily, and then let him or her brush them clean.
It can also be a good idea to create a “tooth brushing routine”