Teeth Cleaning Tips for Children
It is important for your child to establish good oral health habits from an early age. You can take the first step in this process by teaching them how to clean their teeth effectively.
We have compiled some useful tips for introducing teeth cleaning and teaching your child the correct technique for thoroughly cleaning their teeth, tongue and gums. We also share some ways for you to make the process fun so your child approaches their cleaning routine with enthusiasm.
Choosing You Child’s Toothbrush
Always use a soft toothbrush on your child’s teeth. Plaque (the substance that ultimately leads to cavities) is of a soft, sticky consistency and can be removed easily from the teeth and gums with soft bristles.
If you have the choice, opt for an electric toothbrush, as they are more effective than manual ones.
After use, leave the toothbrush upright in an open container to allow it to air dry between cleans. Toothbrushes should be replaced every three to four months.
Toothpaste For Kids
For children younger than 18 months, it is not necessary to use toothpaste. Unless your dentist advises otherwise, just use water on a soft toothbrush. Then, until your child turns six, use only a pea-sized amount of low-fluoride toothpaste. Most major brands have low-fluoride options that are also low foam and do not have a strong mint flavour (most children don’t like the mint).
Once a child turns six, you can begin using standard adult fluoride toothpaste. If your child does not tolerate the minty taste, you can choose a regular fluoride toothpaste that is not mint flavoured.
How To Clean Children’s Teeth
Cleaning inside your child’s small mouth can prove challenging, but it is imperative that you introduce a thorough 2 minute clean from an early age. This will not only ensure that all plaque is removed but also instil a positive routine in your child.
You may find it easiest to stand behind your child when cleaning their teeth. Tilt their head back gently and begin by brushing the inner and outsides of their teeth and gums in gentle circles, making sure to clean both sides thoroughly. Next, brush backwards and forwards on the biting edges of the teeth to remove any food. You do not need to apply a lot of pressure, plaque comes away easily when teeth are brushed regularly. Undue pressure could damage the gums.
The final step is to gently brush your child’s tongue. If using toothpaste, there is no need for your child to rinse after spitting out as the small amount of fluoride left behind will help protect their young teeth.
From the age of seven, most children can begin cleaning their own teeth. However, an adult should always check to ensure that the teeth have been cleaned properly and confirm that all food and plaque have been removed. You can also use this opportunity to check for signs of calculus (which forms when plaque is neglected) and decay.
Is Flossing Kids Teeth Important?
To further prevent cavities developing in between your child’s teeth, daily flossing is imperative. We recommend you floss your child’s teeth before bed each night, after brushing. Until your child reaches the age of 10 you will need to floss their teeth for them as children lack the manual dexterity to do so themselves.
Start with a generous length of floss, holding it tightly between your thumbs and index fingers. Slide it gently up and down between each tooth making sure you go beneath the gum line.
Making Teeth Cleaning Fun
Try some of these tips to make your child’s daily brushing routine enjoyable.
- Involve the whole family; if your child sees everyone else doing it, they will be more likely to join in.
- To get your child excited about brushing their teeth, choose a fun toothbrush with their favourite character on it, or in their favourite colour. Or let your child choose it themselves.
- Play one of their favourite songs that is around 2 minutes long and tell them to brush until it ends. Afterwards you can dance and sing to shift the focus to fun rather than the more serious matter of oral hygiene.
- If not using a song, set an egg timer for 2 minutes and challenge your child to keep on brushing until the timer goes off.
- Make the process into a game. Think of a food your child has just eaten and tell them you are on a hunt to get that food out. Or tell them you need to remove all the tiny sugar bugs that are dancing on their teeth.
- Keep a reward chart and give your child a star every time they finish brushing their teeth. You can then reward them if they complete an entire month without missing a clean. You can download our reward chart here.