Top Tips for Brushing Your Children’s Teeth
The promotion of good oral health should be a key priority when working with families and young children. Why? Because unfortunately in the UK almost a quarter of children start school with tooth decay. In today’s blog we’ll be providing you with some top tips around tooth brushing. These are simple messages that you can promote to families which will help keep their children’s teeth happy and healthy.
When to start brushing
- 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 (with at least 1000ppm fluoride) is needed for babies and toddlers up the age of 3. For children aged 3-6 years a pea- sized amount 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 we brush children’s teeth?
- 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 baby’s teeth?
- According to NHS Choices, 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 you brush your teeth for two minutes you 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.
For more information and advice on how to look after children’s teeth, visit:
NHS Choices – Children’s Teeth
British Society of Paediatric Dentistry – A Practical Guide to Children’s Teeth
By Georgia Leech