How should I brush my child's teeth?

Updated: Dec 18, 2018


Firstly, cleaning your child’s teeth must be part of their daily hygiene routine. You may find it easier to sit/stand behind your child resting their chin in your hand so you can reach the top and bottom teeth more easily.


If they are a baby/toddler, in my own personal experience, it can be somewhat more challenging to get them to comply! Be strong, and don’t cave in! I have personally found the best method with my two year old is to lie them on my lap whilst holding/gripping tightly on to their hands/arms with one hand, (So they can't put their hands in their mouth or push the toothbrush away) leaving my other hand free to somehow get the brush into their tightly clamped mouth!


When the first teeth start to appear (around 6 months old) use a toothbrush designed for children and use a small, pea sized amount of specially formulated children’s fluoride toothpaste. Make sure you continue to brush your child’s teeth until they are capable of doing it ‘properly’ on their own. This is usually around the aged of 7 or 8. (Some people suggest that a child is dextrous enough to brush their own teeth once they have mastered the art of tying their own shoe laces!)


When brushing your child’s teeth concentrate on one section at a time, using circular movements both at the front of the teeth as well as behind and onto the gums themselves. Try and make tooth brushing part of your child’s ‘routine’ so they get used to having their teeth brushed at roughly the same times every day.


Children thrive off praise, so perhaps let them do it on their own first, praise them and encourage them and then you ‘finish off’.


Once they have finished brushing they need to ‘spit’ but don’t let them ‘rinse’. This way the fluoride stays in the mouth for longer and becomes more effective.


Children’s toothpastes have different levels of fluoride to those in adult toothpastes so do make sure you have tooth pastes designed for their age! If you are unsure about the level of fluoride you need, ask your dentist. Generally speaking however, children upto the age of three should use a toothpaste containing a fluoride level of at least 1000ppm (parts per million). After this age children should use a fluoride toothpaste with 1350-1500ppm. This information can be found on the packaging.


There is no strict time when your child must go onto using adult tooth paste. However a few common suggestions are:

  • When they are old enough to make sure they don’t swallow the toothpaste

  • When they can stand the taste! (Adult toothpastes taste much stronger)

  • When their first adult teeth appear, as adult teeth may require more fluoride than baby teeth.

For further information or advice contact College Street Dental Centre in Petersfield, Hampshire on 01730 263180

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