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Teaching Your Child to Brush

10th August 2016

As parents, we are responsible for all aspects of our children’s health and wellbeing, however this can be challenging for a number of reasons; trying to decide the best way to tackle these issues can be confusing. Starting out with a good routine for oral hygiene is crucial to reduce the likelihood of dental disease in the future.

The best time to start this routine is when your child is a baby. Give them a soft baby toothbrush and let them explore it and put it in their mouth, bath time is a great time to do this.

Every morning and night from the moment their first tooth erupts it is important to brush. This starts from around 6 months and will get them used to you brushing daily. As they grow this will become a part of their routine.

As they get bigger and more teeth erupt you can use a chart to show them which tooth has come through, exciting them each time a new one appears. It is important to talk to them about what you are doing and why as this will help their understanding. You may want to let them have a go at brushing as well (“you have a go first and Mummy will finish it off). This encourages them to take a bit of responsibility for their mouth. Use a mirror and get them to look in the mirror and count their teeth and look to see if they are clean. If using a manual toothbrush try to find one with a small head as it will give better access to a little mouth.
Brush in a circular motion aiming into the gums overlapping the teeth and gumline, counting “1,2” for each tooth before moving on. Make sure you brush the inside, outside and the biting surfaces. For an electric toothbrush, aim the bristles in towards the gums making sure you overlap the gum and the tooth and again count “1,2” before moving on.

There are apps (like aquafresh) which are designed to help encourage brushing in children for the correct amount of time. They have characters and you can build rewards for your character each time you brush. There are also many different toothbrushes. I tend to recommend manual brushes until they are old enough and responsible enough for an electric toothbrush (age varies). There are many out on the market, some which flash for the brushing time and some that play music at the start and the finish to let you know when you’ve brushed for long enough. The main point I would make about tooth brushes is the smaller the better.

If your child is using a large headed tooth brush it is very difficult to access all the areas of the mouth needed whereas a small head will get in and around the mouth in a much more efficient way.

Disclosing tablets or buds are a great help as they will stain the plaque blue or pink and then you can easily see where your child is missing. This can really motivate the child as there can be a reward if they improve and manage to remove all the plaque.

Taking your child to the Dentist regularly and asking them to have a look from a very young age helps to build their confidence that the Dental Practice is a fun place to go. They can start with a ride in the chair and watching you have a check-up and soon they will have the confidence to sit in the chair and let the Dentist have a look.

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