Top Tips for Brushing Children’s Teeth
During children’s early years, their first experiences with oral health can impact on the rest of their life. That’s why it’s so important to teach them about how to look after their teeth and introduce them to good habits as soon as possible. It is equally vital to promote good oral health to the families you work with, so they can continue these practices at home.
In this blog we provide information and lots of tips around tooth brushing, and consider how to promote these to key messages to children and families.
When should children’s teeth start to be brushed?
- Families should start brushing their baby’s teeth as soon as they start to come through (usually around the age of 6 months)
- Even before this, families can use a soft gauze or finger brush to wipe round their baby’s gums to help them get used to the sensation.
What kind of toothbrush and toothpaste should be used?
- Families should use a small soft toothbrush to clean their children’s teeth as this will be gentle on the gums and teeth
- Only a tiny smear of toothpaste (containing at least 1000ppm of fluoride) is needed for babies and toddlers up the age of 3
- For children aged 3-6 years a pea- sized amount of toothpaste should be used should be used
- Once families have brushed their child’s teeth, any excess toothpaste can be spat out. However, they should avoid rinsing their child’s mouth out with water so the fluoride toothpaste stays on the teeth for as long as possible.
How many times a- day should children’s teeth be brushed?
- Families should brush their child’s teeth for about two minutes, twice a-day: once just before bedtime and at least one other time during the day
- The last thing to touch children’s teeth before bed should be fluoride toothpaste.
Is it difficult to brush a baby’s teeth?
- According to the NHS, families shouldn’t worry if they don’t manage to brush their baby’s teeth fully at first. The important thing is to get baby into the routine of having their teeth brushed and to get them used to the sensation of the toothbrush
- It’s a great idea for families or older siblings to brush their teeth at the same time so baby can watch and learn!
How to encourage children to have their teeth brushed
Encourage families to:
- Let their child pick their own toothbrush
- Let their children practice on their teddies, toys and even parents themselves
- Give them praise for cleaning their teeth
- Make it fun! Suggest families use a tooth brushing app, such as ‘Brush DJ’. This plays two minutes of music and encourages children to brush in that time
- Use a sticker chart as a reward system. E.g. if they brush their teeth for two minutes they get a sticker.
When can children start brushing their own teeth?
- As children get older, families should encourage them to start brushing their own teeth
- From the age of seven or eight, children should be able to brush their own teeth, but it’s still a good idea for families to watch and make sure they brush properly and for about two minutes.
Want more information on oral health?
- NHS – Children’s Teeth
- British Society of Paediatric Dentistry – A Practical Guide to Children’s Teeth
Training for early years practitioners
Our Oral Health Promotion online training explores the factors that can impact on children’s oral health, such as diet, tooth brushing and dental visits. Practitioners will also learn useful tips and strategies to help them support families in looking after their children’s teeth at home.