Children’s hands and mouths are different than adults. They need to use toothbrushes designed for children. Both adults and children should use brushes with soft, rounded bristles for gentle cleaning. Change to a new brush about every three months.
Wipe infant’s teeth gently with a moist, soft cloth or gauze square. As babies grow, use a child’s toothbrush with a small, pea-sized dab of toothpaste. By age 2 or 3, begin to teach your child to brush. You will still need to brush where they miss. Dentists and hygienists often advise children to use a gentle, short, back-and-forth motion to remove plaque. When children are older, they can switch to this method:
- Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle towards teeth and gums. Move brush back and forth with short strokes, about a half tooth wide.
- Brush the inside and outside surfaces of each tooth, top and bottom.
- Hold the brush flat on top of the teeth and brush the chewing surfaces.
- Gently brush the tongue and roof of mouth to remove debris.
- Floss between teeth daily.
When to Begin Brushing
Once your child’s teeth begin erupting, you can begin cleaning them by wiping them with a moist washcloth. As your child gets more teeth, you can begin to use a soft child’s toothbrush. You should use just a pea-sized amount of toothpaste (such as Baby OraGel) until your child is able to spit it out (too much fluoride can stain their teeth).
For most toddlers, getting them to brush their teeth can be quite a challenge. Some suggestions for making tooth brushing less of a battle can include:
- Letting your child brush your teeth at the same time
- Letting your child pick out a few toothbrushes with their favorite characters and giving them a choice of which one they want to use each time (this will give them some feeling of control over the situation)
- Letting your child brush their own teeth first (you will likely have to “help out”)
- Reading your child some children’s books about tooth brushing
- Having everyone brush their teeth at the same time
To help your child understand the importance of brushing, it can be sometimes fun and helpful to let them eat or drink something that will “stain“ their teeth temporarily and then brush them clean.
It can also be a good idea to create a “tooth brushing routine” and stick to the same routine each day.
Contact Austin Children’s Dentistry at 512-682-KIDS if you have any questions about caring for your child’s teeth or if you want to make an appointment with our pediatric dentists in Austin, Hutto, Leander or Round Rock, Texas.