Brushing is a skill that children learn with teaching, guidance and practice. A parent’s role in their child’s oral hygiene routine starts in infancy and the method changes over the years. Mummy & daddy start using a finger to gently clean their child’s mouth even before teeth arrive. Then, as teeth appear, start brushing their teeth and later, supervise your little one, as they take on the tooth-brushing responsibility. Here’s how to brush your teeth for kids.
When Should You Start Brushing Your Child’s Teeth?
You can start brushing your child’s teeth before they’ve even erupted! Use a clean, damp washcloth to gently wipe your infant’s gums morning and night. This is good for oral hygiene and it also gets your child used to the feeling of having their mouth cleaned.
Once those first little teeth start to poke through the gums, it’s time to switch to a baby-sized soft-bristled toothbrush or a silicone brush. Use a dab of fluoride toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice and brush the fronts, backs, and chewing surfaces of the teeth.
How Long Should You Brush Your Child’s Teeth for Them?
Every child is different, but most parents continue brushing their child’s teeth for them through the toddler years. Once your child is capable, let them share toothbrushing duties with you—give them the opportunity to hold the brush and instruct them on proper technique, then finish the job yourself to ensure that all of the teeth have been thoroughly cleaned. Eventually, your role will shift to a supervisory one.
As far as supervising goes, well, we know some teenagers who probably still need mum and dad to make sure they’re brushing for a full two minutes! You know your child best, so use your discretion.
How Do You Brush Your Child’s Teeth?
Brushing your child’s teeth is really no different than how you brush your own. Brush for two minutes, twice a day, and follow these steps:
- Use a soft-bristled brush and a rice-sized smear of toothpaste up to the age of 3, and a pea-sized amount for children over 3.
- Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle towards the gums.
- Move the brush back and forth with tooth-sized strokes, careful not to use too much pressure.
- Brush the fronts, backs, and chewing surfaces, then place the brush in a vertical position to reach the front teeth.
- Brush the tongue to remove bacteria, then floss at least once a day.
At Caring 4 Smiles, we offer dentistry for kids and we’re happy to show you or your child how to brush during their next appointment with us.
How Can I Encourage Good Brushing Habits in My Child?
Unfortunately, some kids just don’t enjoy brushing. Sometimes it’s a sensory issue, but other times it’s simply because two minutes feels like an eternity for little ones who’d rather be outside playing than brushing their teeth.
For toddlers who love mimicking their parents, have them watch you brush your teeth and let them brush theirs at the same time. Listening to songs that last two minutes while brushing or making a game out of it can help, as can rewards—perhaps a week’s worth of good brushing with no complaints deserves a sheet of stickers or a fancy new toothbrush featuring your child’s favorite cartoon character.