As adults most of us are familiar with the current scientific standard on brushing and flossing which is to brush with a fluoridated toothpaste, a soft tooth brush, twice a day and floss hugging the teeth once a day.
However, recommendations are different for children based on their age group. Let’s take a look:
Up to 3 years old:
- Children should have their teeth brushed by an adult.
- The use of fluoridated toothpaste in this age group is determined by the level of risk – by a dental professional.
- A minimal amount of toothpaste, a “smear” or size of a “grain of rice” should be used.
- For this age group, focus on brushing at the gum lines in a circular brushing motion.
Children between 3 and 6 years old
- Should be assisted by an adult in brushing their teeth.
- A “green pea” size of fluoridated toothpaste is safe and sufficient for this age group.
- We typically recommend allowing the child to brush on their own and then following up by an adult to make sure it was done properly.
- For this age group, focus on brushing the biting surfaces of the teeth and the gum lines.
- If the child’s teeth are toght together and there are no spaces, start flossing their teeth with floss picks once a day as well.
My Child Won’t Let me Brush his/her teeth
- This seems to be a universal problem with parents at first and many consider it to be normal and ok. After all, the child is only a few years old and doesn’t understand the importance of brushing.
- That’s where the mistakes start, children’s minds work very differently than adults. They don’t need logic to act. Their curious minds work by exploration and positive reinforcement.
- Encouragements of good behaviour and not bribing is the way to make a child incorporate healthy life changing habits into their daily routine.
- Make brushing fun by incorporating games and rhythms and tunes into the act. Music makes everything more fun and it is more fun for adults too.
- Always start with mini steps and go one step further in each attempt. Do NOT overwhelm the child by forcing them.
The following link on the ADA website has links to some popular and recommended videos and tunes for kids: https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/kids-brushing-playlist
Manual Vs. Electric/Powered Toothbrush
- Studies have shown time and time again and we have seen this first hand that the quality of brushing is eventually depending on the individual. Both manual and powered tooth brushes can be effective in removing plaque.
- For children, we recommend manual tooth brushes once a day to develop their dexterity and powered tooth brushes as they can be more efficient and sometimes more fun for children.
This video from the American Dental Association summarizes the tips: