It’s important to get your baby used to you cleaning their mouth by making oral hygiene a part of the daily routine. Every evening before dressing them in their pajamas, use a toothbrush designed for infants to massage their gums. You’ll find that they might enjoy chewing on the silicone, which may help soothe them if they’re teething. No toothpaste is necessary at this stage: just get them used to the routine! There are three main parts to selecting the right toothbrush for your child:
1. Soft bristles
Soft bristles are essential to preventing gum recession and cleaning around all the contours of the teeth. You may see those thicker rubber bristles on some toothbrushes in store: skip them for gum health.
2. Toothbrush head size
For kids under age 8, find a toothbrush that’s advertised to be for their age range. The head of the brush (where the bristles are) should be small enough to fit in their small mouths with plenty of room to maneuver. Using an adult sized toothbrush on a young child will result in lots of missed areas.
3. Handle shape and size
This feature is subjective and more dependent on your child’s dexterity. Toothbrush handles may be straight, curved, thick or thin. For toddlers and young children choose a brush with a thicker handle that will be easier for them to hold. The handles often have rubber or silicone to help them keep a good grip on the brush. Once kids reach the pre-teen years, you may want to consider getting them an electric toothbrush to keep them motivated and to help do a better job at cleaning. Electric toothbrushes do all the scrubbing work for you, which allows your child (and you!) to focus only on the area they’re brushing and the angulation of the brush.
Essential brushing tips:
1. When brushing the outer and inner surfaces of the teeth, you should angle the brush 45 degrees towards the gums to allow the bristles to sweep gently below the gums.
2. With manual toothbrushes, small circular motions to brush the teeth. Imagine you’re brushing one tooth at a time!
3. Use gentle pressure when brushing! Pushing harder doesn’t mean you’re getting cleaner faster- it just means you’re more likely to give yourself gum recession! If you see that the bristles on your child’s toothbrush become splayed out like a fan after only a month of use, they’re probably brushing too hard. Instruct them regularly to be more gentle and buy them a new toothbrush- those frayed bristles aren’t as effective at cleaning.
4. Change your toothbrush (or electric toothbrush head) at least every 3 months. Get a new one after recovering from a cold or flu as well!