The younger our children are, the faster they grow, it seems. And that most definitely is true. It’s like we bring our children into the world, and before we know it, it’s time to start brushing their teeth. As we might expect, first-time toothbrushing requires not just any equipment but the right equipment. If you want your child to have superb oral health, it’s time to consider what to look for in your child’s first toothbrush. It makes a difference, you know!
Your Child’s First Toothbrush Should Meet These Requirements
First and foremost, your child’s very first toothbrush should be age-appropriate. For instance, if a brush is recommended for children between the ages of 3 and 6, but your child is only one or two, that toothbrush might be too advanced at this point. Go for a brush for infants instead. There’s a reason there’s a recommended age group for certain toothbrushes.
The perfect toothbrush for your infant or toddler should also:
- Offer a great teething surface for teething babies
- Feature a bristle head that isn’t too large for your little one’s mouth
- Have a non-slip grip for your child’s little hands (Although, you will be doing most of the work at this point.)
It’s also a good idea to go for a toothbrush that is BPA- and phthalate-free. However, this is a personal decision.
And, most importantly, your child’s first toothbrush should feature a seal on the packaging that mentions that it is ADA-Accepted.
When To Start Brushing Your Child’s Teeth
The second you begin to see a bit of tooth appear in your infant’s gum tissue, it’s time to start brushing. (This should occur anywhere between six to 12 months, but every baby is unique.) Yes, even if there’s just centimeters’ worth of tooth showing above the surface of their gums, it requires brushing. As it begins to emerge, a new baby tooth is quite vulnerable. The mouth might be its home, but its home still needs to be tidy!
How to Brush Baby Teeth
First of all, make sure to have a soft-bristled baby toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste on hand.
Wet the toothbrush’s bristle head, and apply a rice-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste (as they reach age three, make that a pea-sized amount).
Sit or have your infant lie down (make sure to tilt their head forward). With your free hand, gently lift your child’s lips and cheeks of the way as you softly brush all surfaces of their tooth or teeth. Brushing should be done in circular motions and last two minutes long in total. The gums should also be gently brushed as these, too, can harbor oral bacteria that can affect your infant’s oral health overall.
Using a rice-sized amount of toothpaste, it isn’t necessary for your infant to rinse and spit after brushing. This is especially true since many children at this age are not yet capable of doing such. However, at the age of three when you have your child switch to a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, teach them the proper act of spitting out their toothpaste and rinsing their mouth. Also, tell them to never swallow toothpaste, no matter how tasty it might be! (Swallowing toothpaste can make your little one queasy and can easily become a bad habit regardless.)
All in all, the brushing process needs to take place twice a day.
And, as your children develop adjacent teeth (two teeth that touch), it’s time to begin flossing between these teeth once or twice a day.
For extra squirmy children, two adults might have to get the job done. Or, your baby may require a distraction like a toy or a child-friendly television show to stay calm during the brushing.
When Your Child Should Start Brushing Their Own Teeth
Every child is different, so there’s no exact date or time that your child should start brushing their own teeth.
However, dentists generally recommend parents letting their child take the brush around the age of five or six. This is normally around the time that a child learns to tie their shoes and, thus, has the fine motor skills to handle something like brushing their pearly whites. But it doesn’t hurt to get your child to start sooner (as long as you still do the bulk of the brushing until your child is well capable of brushing their own teeth).
However, regardless of when your child starts, it’s a good idea to monitor your children’s brushing habits for at least a few years. Not every child gets the right brushing tactics down right away. Some children brush too hard or not hard enough. Others put way too much or not enough toothpaste on their brush. Many children try to rush the tooth-brushing process. Then there are the children who try (or do) swallow their toothpaste during or after brushing. Be there to correct, intervene, and praise as necessary!
Switching to a More Advanced Toothbrush
Do you remember the time you bought your baby a special comb or brush perfect for their soft hair and sensitive scalp? At some point, you buy them a regular comb or brush as they get older and as their hair gets longer, thicker, and coarser.
The same thing applies to toothbrushes. At some point, your baby or toddler is going to outgrow their preliminary toothbrush. A child’s first toothbrush is not forever. (For one, your child’s very first toothbrush isn’t designed for older children. Secondly, toothbrushes do, in fact, require replacement every three to four months. So, expect to say your goodbyes to their first-ever toothbrush at some point.)
Then, what do you switch to once your child’s infant toothbrush is no longer a good match for them? A children’s toothbrush, which is applicable for those ages around three through 10, can be found on pretty much all oral health aisles at your local general merchandise store. Often, the packaging of these toothbrushes offers recommended age groups the brush is best for. Unlike baby toothbrushes, this next toothbrush should offer a larger bristle head and less fine of bristles to help them combat pesky plaque. These stronger (but still gentle) brushes can additionally better help children remove bits of food between their teeth as their diet begins to become more advanced as they get older. This is surely something a baby toothbrush might not be capable of doing.
When to Give Your Child an Adult Toothbrush
So, you go from your child’s first toothbrush to your child’s first “big kid” toothbrush. Then comes a point in time where it’s time that your child graduates to an adult toothbrush. But, when?
Around the age of 10 or 11, it’s time to make the switch to a regular adult toothbrush. This might be a manual toothbrush, or it can be electric. Either way, the difference between an adult toothbrush and a child’s toothbrush is that, again, the bristle head is larger, and the bristles tend to be more firm. This way, they can cover more surface area as your children’s teeth are now grown in and at their full size. The tougher bristles, again, can help your child get the most gunk off their precious pearly whites as possible. Not to mention, the handle of the brush is longer, making it easier for your child’s larger hands to get the proper grip.
Sometimes, a dental professional might recommend a child (or even an adult) to continue using a child’s toothbrush. This might be true if the individual has sensitive teeth, a small jaw, or smaller teeth. However, for the most part, older children are just fine with using an adult toothbrush from here on out.
Always consult with your son or daughter’s dentist first to decide what type of toothbrush might be best for them if you are uncertain. This is also best if your child has a certain medical condition or oral health setback. But, in the end, following the latter guidelines can help you help your child obtain the best toothbrushing habits possible.