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How to brush your child's teeth

Establishing good oral hygiene routines at a young age is the first step towards healthy teeth, the whole life through.

Brush from the very first tooth

Good toothbrushing routines from the beginning is the first step to healthy teeth in the future. Brush twice a day, morning and evening. It need not take place in the bathroom, you could just as well brush in bed or on the changing table – let the child lie on its back with the head nearest to you. The little older child can sit in your lap, leaning the head on your arm.

Help the child to brush

Children need help to brush until the age of 10. A small child does not have the manual skills to brush properly and cannot see the consequences of careless brushing. Try to create a positive atmosphere around the brushing – perhaps a song or story could make it more fun?

It is often convenient to brush with your child lying down, head nearest to you, for example on the changing table. This gives you control over the child’s head and mouth, while he or she can still move freely and play with a toy for distraction. Closeness and eye contact make the child feel secure.

How to brush:

  • Brush twice a day, in the morning and at night before bedtime.
  • Choose a toothbrush with a small brush head and gentle filaments. The handle should fit a small child’s hand, but also the adult helping the child to brush.
  • Apply a small amount of toothpaste – the size of the child’s little finger nail – to the toothbrush. Brush the inside, the outside and biting surfaces of the teeth. Always brush in the same order, to make sure no tooth surface is forgotten.
  • Place the filaments along the teeth and gum line in a 45º angle. Brush with small movements and light pressure. It is important to clean the gum line area, where bacteria easily build up.

Give the teeth time to recover

Every time you eat or drink, bacteria starts producing acids that corrode your teeth. It is therefore important to let your teeth rest between meals. The picture below shows how your teeth are attacked by acids every time you put something in your mouth. After about half an hour your saliva has helped neutralise the acids.

Regular eating gives your teeth a chance to recover (see the image). Frequent snacking causes numerous acid attacks, making it easier for cavities to develop (see the image to the right). Avoid snacking and sugary or acidic drinks between meals. Water is the best thirst quencher between meals and at night. Your child should always go to sleep with clean teeth.