When your child’s first teeth come in, that means it’s time to brush. Parents should do the teeth brushing for children until they’re old enough to hold the brush themselves. But what kind of toothbrush should small children use to achieve ideal infant oral health? It may seem like you can choose any old type of toothbrush for your child, but there are actually several things to consider when shopping for a child’s toothbrush. Here are our top shopping tips for your child’s first toothbrush.
Since your child’s mouth is much smaller than yours, you can’t simply buy them the same toothbrush you use. Your child’s first toothbrush should have a head that is small enough to fit comfortably between their back molars and cheek. It can be helpful to bring your child along while you shop so you can choose a more accurately sized toothbrush.
Often, you can find children’s toothbrushes that are specifically designed for different age brackets. These can help guide you toward a toothbrush of an appropriate size for your little one’s mouth.
Soft Bristles for Sensitive Mouths
There are a lot of options for toothbrush bristles. Usually, you can find them in hard, medium, and soft. For your child’s first toothbrush, opt for soft bristles. Most dentists recommend soft, rounded bristles for effective teeth cleaning that won’t aggravate sensitive gums. Avoid brushes with extra rubber bristles, as they can cut gums and don’t actually provide any extra cleaning power.
Look for bristles that come in a rounded shape. Bristles that are in a more angular shape are more prone to fraying and can be hard on sensitive gums.
Considering the handle of your child’s toothbrush is especially important if you’re buying the first toothbrush that they’ll use without your help. Toothbrush handles come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. There is no hard-and-fast rule for choosing the right toothbrush handle. Instead, you should focus on finding the handle that is most comfortable for your child to grip.
Find a handle that can fit comfortably in your child’s small hands. If the toothbrush is uncomfortable for them to hold, it’s unlikely that they’ll be willing to brush for the entire two minutes that they need to. Choosing the right toothbrush handle also gives them more control, which means that they’ll be able to more effectively brush their teeth. It’s a good idea to choose a brush with a rubberized handle since it makes it easier to grip.
What About Electric Toothbrushes?
Electric toothbrushes can be suitable for children as long as you follow the same guidelines as you would for a manual toothbrush. Be sure to purchase a small, soft-bristled head for the tooth brush. Often, electric toothbrushes have bulky handles which can be difficult for children to grip. Look for slimmer models or ones designed specifically for children to make sure they have full control of the brush.
An added benefit of electric toothbrushes is that they often come in fun, character-themed styles. Electric toothbrushes can also help ensure that your child is brushing for the proper amount of time. Since most of them are timed to shut off after two minutes, your child will know that they have to keep brushing until the toothbrush shuts off.
When to Replace the Toothbrush
Of course, your child’s first toothbrush will not last forever. Knowing when to replace your child’s toothbrush will help make sure that their brushing is as effective as possible. As your child uses their toothbrush, the wear and tear on the bristles will start to wear them down. After a lot of use, bristles will start to lose their shape and become frayed. As soon as you notice the head of the toothbrush losing its shape or fraying bristles, it’s time to buy a replacement toothbrush. This usually happens after about 3 months of use. Using misshapen or frayed bristles makes teeth brushing less effective.
If your child gets sick, it’s also a good idea to replace their toothbrush then. Bacteria on the toothbrush bristles and handle can make your child’s illness last longer, or it can make them sick again after they start to feel better. If your child has a cold or the flu, get them a new toothbrush both when they first get sick and immediately after to prevent any lingering bacteria from making them sick again.
When in doubt, replace your child’s toothbrush every 3 months.
Toothbrush Tips for Reluctant Brushers
Even the excitement of a first toothbrush isn’t always enough to motivate your child to brush their teeth regularly. There are some ways to make brushing more exciting, however. If your child has previously used a manual toothbrush, try making the switch to an electric or battery-power option. The new gadget may be exciting to them.
Some electric or battery-powered toothbrushes even have fun features like lights or music that can make tooth brushing seem more fun for your child. Look for ones branded with your child’s favorite song or character. If toothbrushing feels more like playtime, your child will be much less reluctant to participate.
If you have a finicky child, try offering them different toothbrush options. Let them pick out two or three toothbrushes that they can keep in rotation. Being able to switch it up may make the routine a little bit more interesting for them.
Contact Children’s Dentistry Today
Picking out your child’s first toothbrush is just the first step on a journey to a lifetime of good oral hygiene. Paired with regular visits to the dentists, routine toothbrushing is one of the most important things your child can do to maintain healthy teeth. If you still have questions about the best toothbrush for your child, or if you’re looking for a pediatric dentist for your child’s first dental check-up, feel free to contact us at Children’s Dentistry. We’re happy to answer any questions that you may have.