It seems simple: purchase a toothbrush; brush your teeth. But it’s not so straightforward. There are many toothbrushes on the market, and they are not all created equally. We look at the best toothbrushes for children.
The aim of brushing is to gently remove the buildup of plaque and bacteria that can lead to gum disease, bad breath, enamel erosion and cavities. Poor oral health can even contribute to conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
It’s important to always:
- Brush teeth twice daily, for 2 minutes
- Use a fluoride-based toothpaste
- Floss before brushing
- Change your toothbrush regularly
One of the most common mistakes we see in our practice is the incorrect bristle choice. Medium and hard-bristled toothbrushes can be harsh on gums and can even damage tooth enamel. With the correct brushing technique, a soft-bristle brush will remove unwanted plaque and buildup without damaging the soft enamel coating or aggravating the gums. Round tipped bristles provide an extra-safe choice. Regardless of the toothbrush choice for your child, always ensure that the bristles are soft.
Disposable toothbrushes are the most common toothbrush on the market and are cheap and readily available. Disposable toothbrushes usually have nylon bristles. To ensure a comfortable and thorough clean, it is important that the head of the toothbrush isn’t too large. Read the label carefully to select a toothbrush size that is age-appropriate for your child.
For children under 3, we strongly recommend a manual toothbrush.
Electric Toothbrushes are more expensive than their manual counterparts. Not only is there the initial cost of the toothbrush and charger, but like any toothbrush, the head requires regular replacing. Look for an electric toothbrush with an oscillating head, as these are known to give a more thorough clean.
Electric toothbrushes can be fun for many children aged 3 and over. Some electric toothbrushes come with extra features, such as built-in timers, alarms and music to help make toothbrushing engaging and enjoyable. Other children may find the vibration uncomfortable or sensorily overwhelming. For children with mobility issues, an electric toothbrush may provide ease and convenience for themselves or carers.
Toothbrushes by age
My patients frequently ask me about age-appropriate toothbrushing. Here’s an overview:
Babies 0-6 months – no toothbrush needed. Simply wipe gums with a clean, damp cloth.
6 months to 2 years – Use a rubber toothbrush with a very small head that fits comfortably in the child’s mouth. Supervise children to avoid choking. No toothpaste is required.
2 – 4 years – Look for a toothbrush with a small head, wide handle and soft grip. Allow children to practice their independence while aiding and supporting them. Use a mild toothpaste specific for their age, and avoid your child swallowing toothpaste as it can lead to fluoride staining.
5-8 years – Choose an age-appropriate toothbrush that your child loves to use, perhaps branded with their favourite character or in their favourite colour. Keep it fun but ensure teeth are being well cleaned.
9 + years – Your child should now have the maturity and dexterity to brush their own teeth responsibly. Their toothbrush should be soft-bristled and slightly smaller but similar to an adult brush. They may prefer to switch to an electric toothbrush.
Great tooth brushing habits and the correct toothbrush will help your child establish healthy oral practices. For more information or to chat with our friendly Bentleigh east dental clinic staff, contact Verve Dental today.