Toothbrushing Made Easy
When and how should you brush your child's teeth? The Supernanny team brings you the brushing basics plus tips for a reluctant toothbrusher.
Tooth decay occurs faster in children than adults, so it is vital to establish a healthy toothbrushing routine for your child as early as possible.
You should start brushing when the first tooth begins to show. Baby teeth usually appear at around six months, and all baby teeth should be visible by two years of age. Your child’s first adult teeth appear behind the baby teeth at about six, and the first baby teeth will start to fall around the same time.
Use a soft-bristled children’s brush with a pea-sized smear of toothpaste and brush gently but thoroughly, ensuring all teeth are covered. Your child should brush their own teeth, but brush again after they’ve finished to make sure the back teeth are cleaned. A good tip is to cradle your child’s head and brush their teeth from behind – it may help you to reach the top and bottom rows.
Your child should brush their teeth twice a day. The morning brush can be before or after breakfast, but tooth brushing should always be the last thing a child does before bed. This also helps them develop a routine – brushing teeth becomes associated with bedtime.
Tips for a reluctant brusher
- Enthusiasm is contagious! With young children, Mum and Dad should be excited about tooth brushing and make lots of noise while brushing - your child will realise they are missing out on something and want to join in.
- Let them watch you brush your teeth from an early age and brush your own teeth alongside them.
- Give clear, repeated warnings to your child that it is nearly bed and brushing time.
- Don’t ask, tell. ‘I want you to brush your teeth now, please,’ or ‘Teeth please!’ is a better reminder than a question, which always invites ‘No’ or ‘I don’t want to’.
- Buy colourful, fun-looking brushes. Most first children’s toothbrushes are character-themed, but from about age 4, they can start to use electric toothbrushes and the choice goes wild. Carmengirls do a great fairy toothbrush for £6.99, or try the Doctor Who light-up toothbrush and beaker set for £4.99. Dentist.net also do a range of character toothbrushes, including flashing toothbrushes, which light up for 60 seconds, the recommended brushing time for kids)
- Sing! Singing a little tune while you brush your child’s teeth will make it feel like a game.
- Use the Involvement Technique as part of your family’s toothbrushing routine. Get your child to carry out simple tasks, such as putting toothpaste on his brush, and give him plenty of praise!
- Good dental hygiene : This is one of the most valuable skills you can teach your child. The basic rules are easy to remember, and they should become part of your child’s everyday routine to ensure a lifetime of pearly whites!
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Find out more
- The British Dental Association has tips on dental hygiene for your whole family.