12 ways to brush up on your kids’ dental hygiene

Brush in gentle circles and smile to keep your child relaxed [GETTY]

1. Use a toothbrush that has a small head. Many toothbrushes are made for specific ages. Let your children choose their own toothbrushes. If they like their brush they are more likely to want to use it.

2. Toothpastes are also designed for different ages and children’s toothpastes usually don’t taste the same as adults’. Make sure your child’s paste has at least 1,000 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride.

3. Most dentists now recommend that as soon as your child can spit out after brushing (between three and four years old) they could be using adult toothpaste. Certainly once they start to get their adult teeth they need the extra fluoride, around 1,450 ppm, that adult toothpastes contain.

4. Children only need a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and don’t forget to push the paste into the bristles so it gradually oozes out while you are brushing and doesn’t fall off the brush or get swallowed as a lump.

5. Brush for two minutes. If your mobile phone has a stopwatch use that or you can also get apps for iPhone such as Brush DJ, Oral-B Disney Magic Timer and T-Rex Toothbrush Timer.

6. Keeping your child still while you are brushing can take some practice. A baby can lie across your legs while you sit down or they can sit on your knee when they are a little older. Once your child can stand up and balance themselves, you can either sit, kneel or bend over in front of them.

7. For their lower teeth, use your other hand to gently hold underneath their lower jaw. When you clean their upper teeth put your other hand on top of your child’s head to keep them still.

8. There are six areas to brush. The lower teeth have three surfaces: the biting area on the top of each tooth, the outside surface next to the cheeks and lips and the inside surface next to the tongue.

The upper teeth have the same three areas. It is sometimes best to clean the upper and lower outside surfaces at the same time by getting your child to bite their teeth together. Brush in gentle circles and avoid scrubbing the teeth.

9. A child often tightens the muscles in their cheeks, especially if you are brushing too quickly. Don’t lose patience. They are watching your face, so smile. Hold the brush still for a moment and tell them to make their mouth soft. Then start brushing slowly again.

10. If their mouth fills up with bubbles before you have cleaned all the teeth, let them spit out and then carry on brushing the other teeth. There will be plenty of paste left on the brush and the other teeth to work.

11. When they are old enough your child should spit after brushing but never rinse with water as this will wash away the good fluoride.

12. Keep brushing your child’s teeth for them until they are old enough to wash their own hair. It is sensible to let your child start to brush their own teeth so long as you then brush them afterwards.

 

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