A regular teeth-cleaning routine is essential for children’s good oral health. Children, just like adults, should be brushing their teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste for a minimum of two minutes, starting from the arrival of their first milk tooth. But sometimes, brushing your child’s teeth isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Here are some general steps to follow when brushing children’s teeth:
1. Choose the Right Toothbrush & Toothpaste
Regardless of how old your child is, their toothbrush must fit comfortably in their mouth and be easy to hold. Select a soft-bristled toothbrush that is ‘round-ended’, as these bristles will be both effective at cleaning teeth as well as being kind to the gums.
There are many toothbrushes on the market that are designed specifically for children and come in a variety of fun colours and characters. Children can also use bamboo toothbrushes, as they are a safe and eco-friendly alternative to traditional plastic toothbrushes.
As well as being biodegradable and great for the environment, bamboo toothbrushes are also free from harmful chemicals that can be found in some plastic toothbrushes. As a parent, the safety of your children is more important than anything, so you want to choose a toothbrush that is free from these toxins.
2. Get Your Child in the Correct Position
Once you have your chosen toothbrush and toothpaste, have your child sit or stand in a comfortable position in front of you with their head tilted slightly back. You can also have them lie down with their head in your lap if that's more comfortable for them. Your child will have to stay in this position for approximately 2 minutes, so make sure you get them in a comfortable position they will be happy with.
3. Brush the Teeth & Tongue
Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle into your child’s mouth and use gentle circular motions to brush the teeth and gums. Pay extra attention to the back teeth, which are more prone to cavities if not brushed properly. Brush all sides of the teeth, including the front, back, and top. Make sure they don't swallow the toothpaste.
Once you have brushed your child’s teeth, it’s time for the tongue! Use the toothbrush or a tongue scraper to gently brush or scrape the tongue, which can help remove bacteria and freshen breath.
4. Make It a Fun Experience
If your child struggles to stay still or you find it hard getting them to brush their teeth without a tantrum, try and make it a fun and engaging activity. Why not sing one of their favourite songs, make up a new toothbrush song, or even play a game while you brush their teeth.
Here are some more additional tips to take note of when brushing your children's teeth:
- Start brushing your baby's teeth as soon as the first milk tooth breaks through
- Use only a smear of toothpaste.
- Make sure children don't eat or lick toothpaste from the tube.
- Use children's fluoride toothpaste containing no less than 1,000ppm of fluoride (check label).
How Old Before Children Can Brush Their Own Teeth?
A general rule of thumb is that children need help brushing their teeth until they are about 7-8 years old, as this is around the time they will have developed the skills and coordination necessary to properly brush their teeth. That being said, parents should continue to observe their child's brushing and technique until they are around 10 years old, as they may still need assistance to ensure they are brushing their teeth properly.
In the meantime, parents should encourage good oral hygiene habits by following our 5 step guide above, demonstrating proper technique, and supervising their brushing to ensure they are doing it properly. This will help prepare them for eventually brushing their own teeth on their own.
Brush Fresh Co. is founded and run by a group of UK-based dentists, who specialise in environmentally-friendly and sustainable dental products. From biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes to zero waste toothbrush tablets, our product range has been designed to put both your dental health and the environment first. For more information and dental care advice, head over to our blog page or get in contact with us here.
Written by Kate, for Brush Fresh Co.