To help your child learn about excellent oral hygiene, it’s imperative that you know when to change a toothbrush and how often. Regularly swapping out an old toothbrush for a new one is essential for adults, as well, but you have to teach your kids how to figure it out on their own. As they become older and more independent, you won’t be the one checking on the condition of everyone’s toothbrushes.
This is a lesson that children need to learn before adulthood. Using an old toothbrush is useless at best. Past a certain point, an old brush can’t clean the teeth any longer. Worse than that, a worn out toothbrush can spread bacteria and germs rather than eradicating them. Long before your child’s first tooth pokes through the gums, get familiar with proper toothbrush maintenance, the correct time range for changing a brush, and the pros and cons of different types of toothbrushes.
The Dangers of an Old Toothbrush
One of the primary reasons parents need to know when to change a toothbrush and how often is that the condition of a toothbrush doesn’t seem like a big deal. What’s the harm in using a toothbrush that’s a bit past its expiration date, after all? As mentioned, however, an old toothbrush spreads germs instead of cleaning the mouth. The thing to remember is that an old toothbrush can sneak up on you and your child both.
Consider the fact that, ideally, your child brushes his or her teeth twice a day, if not three times, seven days a week. That’s a substantial amount of work for a little brush. Piggybacking on that point, kids who are just learning about proper oral hygiene tend to brush hard. Younger children won’t get the hang of brushing right away. They go to town with their toothbrushes, which causes the bristles to flatten and splay. At that point, they can’t even clean a layer of plaque.
The worst part is that old toothbrushes hang onto the germs they clean from the teeth. Continuing to use an old brush spreads those germs again, as discussed. The danger comes from its ability to cause infection because of those germs. For example, if your child is sick and brushes with an old, worn-out toothbrush, they can keep spreading the bacteria, resulting in an infection that never gets better.
The Basic Rule
In general, it’s smart to change out your toothbrush every three to four months. The basic rule advises folks to change their toothbrush when they go in for their six-month checkup, and again three months before and three months after. It’s also important to keep an eye on the bristles. Once they start to wander off in all directions or lose shape, then it’s a clear sign that it’s time for a new toothbrush.
Adults vs. Children
That being said, children brush their teeth differently than adults. Figuring out when to change the toothbrush, how often, and what toothbrush to use will depend on your little ones. They may grasp the correct technique early. Most children, however, go through a phase where they brush the heck out of their baby teeth, bearing down on the brush because they think that a hard scrub equals cleaner teeth. Because of that, you may need to change your child’s toothbrush more often, such as every two months.
Different Toothbrushes and Their Longevity
Manual toothbrushes are typically the best choice for younger kids just beginning to brush their teeth. They offer control over how hard you brush and the bristles are usually softer, which may be better for milk teeth. Electric toothbrushes can get teeth cleaner because of the way the bristles rotate. The heads are often shaped in a way that gets between teeth, as well, plus many electric toothbrushes have sensors that not only cause the brush to stay on for the correct amount of time but also prevent you from applying too much pressure. Those two details make electric toothbrushes a wise choice for children, but only after they’ve successfully used a manual toothbrush for a couple of years.
Making the Brush Last a Little Longer
It is possible to make your child’s toothbrush last longer, but remember that it’s still imperative to get a new brush every few months. For starters, teaching the correct oral hygiene techniques early will stop your child from bearing down too hard and flattening the toothbrush. You should supervise your child’s brushing habits in the beginning. Many pediatric dentists urge parents to take a teach-one-do-one approach. In other words, brush your child’s teeth yourself first, demonstrating the right amount of pressure and the proper length of time spent cleaning, then invite your child to do it.
Proper toothbrush maintenance helps, as well. Plenty of people think that covering their toothbrush with a cap or cover is healthy, but doing so breeds bacteria. Teach your child to leave their toothbrush uncovered but safely stored in a cabinet or an empty corner of the counter. Tell them not to place their brushes near anyone else’s, either. Toothbrushes that are too close together can pass bacteria back and forth.
An Easy Reminder
Remember to change your child’s brush at each six-month check-up. Three or four months before and after are benchmarks for new brushes, as well. You can also keep an eye out for toothbrushes that let you know when they’re worn out and ready to be tossed in the trash. For instance, look for toothbrushes with bristles that change color.
A fresh new toothbrush encourages excellent oral health. By teaching your child when to change a toothbrush and how often, you’re providing a valuable lesson that’s helpful well into adulthood. How do you teach your kiddo about oral health? Do you use any fun brushing games, rhymes, or songs to get your child excited about hygiene?