Babies get their first teeth at around 6 months of age. When the first tooth comes through, tooth brushing begins! Brush twice a day, in the morning after breakfast and in the evening before bed. Children need help with brushing until the age of six to seven and supervision until the age of eleven to twelve.
Use small circular motions to brush the outside (near the cheek), inner side (near the tongue) and the chewing surface of the teeth. Don’t forget to brush the gum line with the brush at 45 degrees, where the teeth meet the gums. Not many children like to brush teeth at first, so making it fun and interactive is the best way to establish this important routine.
Babies and toddlers
Do not need toothpaste. Wrap a clean, damp face washer around the adult’s finger and wipe the surfaces of the teeth and gums. An adult may sit on a sofa near a good light source with the toddler lying on their back facing the ceiling near the adult, like in the dentist’s chair.
Children age 2-6
Start using children’s low-flouride toothpaste as they learn to spit. Alternatively, non-fluoride toothpaste can be used. Seek dentist’s advice before ruling out fluoride toothpaste. Use only a small, pea-sized amount of toothpaste on a small, soft-bristled toothbrush. An electric toothbrush can help to improve the quality of brushing.
Use a stool to bring the child up to the vanity and place a mirror at child’s level so they can see themselves when brushing.
Children age 7 and onwards
Start using standard flouride toothpaste and brush and floss by themselves. Adult supervision is still important until the age of eleven.
Children watch and copy adults all the time. Show them how you brush teeth. Brush for them in their mouths on one side, ask them to repeat the same on the other side.
Make it fun
- Use an electric toothbrush or toothbrush with a timer; music or blinking lights for 2 minutes.
- Incentives such as “the first person to brush teeth chooses the bedtime story”.
- Rewards system: toothbrushing chart with a goal or a reward at the end.
- Use disclosing tablets: food dye that stains the plaque and brush it off.
- Use stools and mirrors in the bathroom set up. Children are more likely to be engaged in an activity where they can reach things and have a good visual feedback.
- Some children do not like mint flavour, many different flavours are available as alternative toothpaste.
Children benefit from learning from a professional adult other than parents or a guardian. See your dentist for regular check-ups and tips on oral hygiene.
Online links for further information and download activities
Colgate Kids Corner http://www.colgate.com/en/us/kids/parents-place
Tepe Children’s Dental Care http://www.tepe.com/uk/tips-advice/childrens-dental-care/