4 FAQs About Teaching Young Kids The Best Way to Brush Teeth

Good oral hygiene starts from an early age and there are many questions parents will likely have to ensure their kids learn the right way to brush, and get brushing routines right from the start. These four questions are focused on how to brush the right way with growing smiles, the best brushing equipment to use, and how you can get kids invested in the process to develop good brushing habits at an early age:

1. Should you brush your kids teeth for them?

Yes. Until kids have the skills to hold and handle the toothbrush themselves, usually around age 5-6, parents should assist kids with their brushing routines. When they are old enough, still continue to supervise brushing by watching kids brush their own teeth, then make sure they don't miss any areas, focusing along the gum line.

2. What age should brushing begin?

Brushing should begin as soon as the first baby tooth appears, but it's also recommended parents get into the habit of wiping babies gums with a damp cloth after feeding. When the first small tooth appears, start using a small soft bristled toothbrush – with no toothpaste. Most paediatric dentists recommend using a fluoride toothpaste from two years and older, although with some toddlers they may suggest using fluoride toothpastes earlier. Remember the golden rule of brushing – brush longer, not harder.

3. What toothpastes and toothbrushes are best for kids?

Because young children have a tendency to want to swallow toothpaste, it's important to use formulas that are safe for kids. Too much ingestion of fluoride over a long process can lead to dental fluoridation where white spots appear on the teeth, which can be a concern for kids under eight as the teeth are still developing.

If swallowing toothpaste is a problem, this is might mean going with a fluoride free toothpaste or a child strength toothpaste with up to 60 per cent less fluoride in the formula. There are many 'training toothpastes' available that are safe to swallow, and if your child hates the taste of toothpaste altogether, toothpastes with fruit flavours such as strawberry and banana may be worth trying.

From a toothbrush standpoint, toddlers should use smaller toothbrushes with softer bristles, graduating to a bigger head as their adult molars come through. Most kids toothbrushes will have a recommended age range for use on the packaging. 

4. How can I make brushing routines more fun?

It's normal for kids to be less

than excited about the prospect of brushing, but if the process of 'lock jaw' is preventing your toddler from opening wide, there are a number of strategies that can help. Electric or mechanical toothbrushes can be more fun for kids to use, especially to brush for the recommended two minutes, about 10 seconds on each tooth.

Models that feature cartoon characters or play music can make brushing more fun, encouraging older kids to brush twice a day on their own accord. Also getting young children to roar like a lion will help them open wide enough to brush back teeth, or growl like a wolf can help make brushing more interactive. Create a storytelling routine about the brushing process to keep kids interested, like pretending that they're scrubbing away the 'bogeyman plaque monsters' and talk to them throughout the process to explain what it is you are doing.

Developing regular brushing routines at an early age is an important part of developing good oral hygiene routines that will last for life. For a growing smile, the time to get it right now, will help promote bright, healthy smiles well into adulthood. To learn more, contact a company like Pakington Dental Care with any questions you have.