How Should Your Child Brush Their Teeth?

We all know the importance of looking after our teeth, but it’s even more crucial for children. The health of your child’s teeth dictates how healthy they’ll be in their adult life, so it’s important to establish a good brushing routine from an early age. But that’s not always easy. Looking after your teeth can be a tedious task, even as an adult, so how can we expect children to enjoy it? Fortunately, there are plenty of tips and tricks parents can use to make the experience fun!


What Makes A Good Routine?

Not all of us know how to properly brush our teeth. Ideally, you should use gentle strokes on your teeth, gums and tongue to avoid irritation. However, this isn’t as important as how often, and for long, we brush our teeth. Children — and adults — should brush their teeth twice a day for at least 2 minutes. You should also promote good eating habits by monitoring your child’s intake of sugary treats and drinks and have regular visits to your dentist.


What Toothbrush Should My Child Use?

Before we delve into the tips and tricks that can make brushing fun, let’s talk about what toothbrush your child should use. Electric toothbrushes are great as they thoroughly clean plaque off the teeth and massage your child’s gums. However, a standard toothbrush is fine, too! The best type of toothbrush for children is one with soft bristles which won’t irritate their gums. They should also be replaced on a regular basis — every three months — so that the bristles don’t get hard. Toothbrush heads are also a breeding ground for bacteria, so it’s best to replace them often to ensure that your child isn’t spreading bacteria around their teeth and gums.


Let Them Choose Their Toothbrush

Allowing your child to use their own toothbrush can make them feel more independent and involved. If they have a favourite TV or cartoon character, take them shopping and let them choose a toothbrush with that particular theme. It’s likely to make them more excited about getting home and using their new toothbrush. Or, let them choose their own special holder or toothpaste flavour. Little personalised touches like this will help them associate brushing as a fun activity, rather than a boring chore.


How To Make Brushing Fun

There are many ways you can make brushing an enjoyable experience for your child. Playbrush uses tooth-related games to keep children entertained and gives them a reward incentive, awarding stars if they brush for a certain amount of time. This makes brushing a positive — rather than negative — experience. As it’s compatible with all toothbrushes, your whole family can use it. You can also use the companion app to monitor your child’s brushing progress.

But it doesn’t stop there! Why not offer additional rewards to add a further incentive for your child to brush their teeth? You can use a star chart of your own, and when they achieve a certain number of stars reward them with a day out or a treat. You can also get the whole family involved by encouraging healthy competition. Why not see who can brush longer than mum or dad?

Nobody likes to be watched over, but it’s important to supervise your young children while they brush their teeth. You should monitor how much fluoride is in their toothpaste and ensure they’re not using too much — a pea sized amount will do. Up to the age of 8, children can develop dental fluorosis if their intake of fluoride is too high. This can cause white spots to appear on the tooth enamel. In the worse case, it can cause staining or even bumps in the tooth’s surface.

You can still monitor how your child is brushing their teeth, but by getting involved, the activity can become a fun bonding experience for the whole family.


Brushing Tips For Adults

Brushing doesn’t just have to be fun for kids, adults can enjoy it too! The young at heart can enjoy Playbrush, and there’s nothing stopping you from playing your favourite song while you brush. This will not only ensure that you’re brushing for the recommended time, but you’ll have a bit of fun too. Your teeth will thank you and you’ll benefit from having a healthy, white smile.


The Importance Of Regular Dental Visits

Try and get your child into the habit of seeing the dentist from an early age. Dental fear can be paralysing, affecting them well into their adult lives. If they associate brushing their teeth with a happy memory, they’re less likely to be afraid. Make sure you tell your dentist how great your child’s brushing routine is and they’ll get extra praise, reinforcing new and positive habits.

Every child is different, and naturally you’ll know what will work best for them. By establishing good habits — and following them yourself — you can ensure your child will grow up to have healthy teeth. It’s not always easy making what is typically seen as a tedious task fun and interesting, but the payoff from investing time into these techniques is priceless.

Dr Jenny Kabir is the clinical director of Fresh Dental Smile Clinic. Fresh Dental Smile Clinic is a leading dental clinic in York, providing unparalleled patient care with the latest, highest quality dentistry available today. Outside of work Jenny enjoys spending time with her two young children and family.