As a parent, how do you keep up with your children’s oral healthcare needs? Sometimes, just keeping up with their ever-changing shoe sizes is a challenge! No worries. Regularly teaching your kids to brush with the right toothpaste and toothbrush is a great place to start!
What kind of toothbrush and toothpaste should my kid use?
The brand of the toothbrush is not as important as the type of bristle and the size of the head. We recommend a soft toothbrush with a small head. Medium or hard brushes can cause irritation and contribute to recession of the gums; a small head allows each tooth to be covered more thoroughly and is less likely to injure gums. It’s not necessary to “scrub” teeth as long as your kids are brushing at least twice a day and visiting the dentist for cleanings at least twice a year.
When it comes to toothpaste, once again, there’s not a particular brand you need to use, but we recommend using a fluoride-containing toothpaste to decrease the incidence of dental decay. We recommend our patients use whatever toothpaste tastes good to them as long as it contains fluoride.
Amount of fluoride toothpaste the American Dental Association recommends:
- Kids younger than 3 years old: Use only a smear or the size of a grain of rice
- Kids 3 years and older: No more than a pea-sized amount
How do I get my kid to brush his own teeth regularly?
As soon as your baby gets his first teeth, it’s important for you to start brushing those teeth daily. Once your kids get old enough to start participating in brushing their own teeth, here are some ways you can make it fun.
- Musical toothbrush: you sing and they brush. When you pause, they stop brushing until you resume singing. Choose a song from a movie or show that they enjoy watching!
- Brush your teeth at the same time. Kids love to imitate the adults around them, and they also learn by watching. Make toothbrush time a bonding activity.
Early Elementary Kids
- Online games: several websites offer age-appropriate toothbrushing games to teach kids how to brush thoroughly or to help them think of it as a game.
- Make a sticker chart or some other type of reward system where they get a prize after a certain number of weeks of remembering to brush their teeth.
- When it’s time for a new toothbrush or toothpaste, let them help choose their own. This will give them ownership in the process. (At least until the novelty of the new toothbrush wears off!)
Late Elementary Kids
- Try the toothbrush game app: a device that attaches to the end of a child’s toothbrush and pairs with a smartphone app, allowing the brusher to play a video game while brushing! This is a perfect idea for your high-energy, low attention span 11-year old who needs that extra incentive to complete this “boring” part of his bedtime routine.
- Let your child listen to music while they brush.
- Give them a stopwatch to time themselves and/or their siblings as they brush their teeth for that magic two-minute mark!
Leave us a comment and us know what you think of these ideas or share your top tips with our other Zoo Crew parents!