What is a good toothbrush and what is the best way to brush?
There are two types of toothbrushes: manual and powered. There are also soft, medium and hard bristles. Kids should use a soft bristled toothbrush. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that you buy the one that you will use and one that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Having the seal of acceptance means that there is scientific evidence showing that the product is safe and effective. For a toothbrush, that means that the components of the toothbrush are safe to use in the mouth; that the bristles are free of sharp or jagged edges and endpoints; that the handle is durable; that the bristles won’t fall out with normal use; and that it can be used without supervision by the average ADULT to provide a significant decrease in mild gum disease and plaque. A powered toothbrush must also show evidence that it is safe for both soft and hard oral tissues and dental restorations.
The size and shape of the toothbrush should fit their mouth comfortably and allow them (or you) to reach all areas of their mouth. They should also be replaced every 3-4 months, and sooner if the bristles are worn out or if you children have been sick.
Both manual and powered toothbrushes can effectively clean teeth, however, children may find that brushing with a powered toothbrush is more fun. Also, some people find that a powered toothbrush is easier to use or more comfortable. Whatever your choice, the key is that your child likes it and that you find it easy to use so that you will brush their teeth at least twice a day.
You want to encourage your kids to brush with fluoride toothpaste. Use a pea-sized dab of fluoride toothpaste for kids ages 2-6 years of age. It is a good idea that the parent is the one placing the toothpaste on the toothbrush and also brushing their teeth at this age. Older kids can use slightly more toothpaste and can brush independently when they show that they can effectively remove the plaque off of their teeth. Ask your pediatric dentist at their check-ups if they still need parental assistance when brushing. For kids under age 2, you can use a soft toothbrush and a little water. Ask your pediatric dentist if they recommend using a smear amount of fluoride toothpaste for this age group.
Here are some helpful tips on your technique:
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- Help your kids place the toothbrush at an angle against their gums (I tell kids where the pink and the white meet).
- Make sure they move the brush back and forth, gently, in short strokes.
- Help them brush the front, back and top of teeth.
- Teach them to brush their tongue to remove germs and freshen breath.
- Don’t forget to floss![/list]
There is a great website with fun videos and songs to motivate kids to brush for 2 minutes 2 times a day. There is also lots of info for parents. Be sure to check it out: www.2min2x.org!
Dr Reid is a Pugh Award distinguished board eligible pediatric dentist. She earned her pediatric specialty training through UCLA’s program at San Diego Rady Children’s Hospital. She has also served our servicemen as a Dental Officer at the Marine Corp Air Station, Miramar in San Diego. She’s also mommy to 5 year old Ezra. To follow her monthly blog posts, follow her at PediatricDentistSanDiego.com.