Our Chelmsford children’s dentist looks at this basic, but important, piece of dental care equipment.
As a parent, there are many things that we have to teach our children, almost from the moment that they are born.
It is widely believed that children learn much about the world around them within the first few years of their life, refining this as they grow up.
Because of this, it is important that we enable them to understand the importance of looking after their teeth from an early age. Some of this is within our immediate control, such as making sure that they don’t eat too many sweets, but some will depend on them learning good habits from their parents.
One essential area which we can teach them as soon as possible, is how to clean their teeth well in the morning and at night. Whilst young children should be supervised until we are sure that they are doing this correctly and efficiently, it is good to encourage them to take the bulk of responsibility as early as is practical.
Baby gums and bacteria
Before we look at buying a toothbrush, parents should be aware that, even before they have any teeth, oral care is important. Whether being breast or bottle fed, bacteria will accumulate on the baby’s gums and these should be cleaned, after feeding, with a clean damp cloth. Once the first set of teeth come through though, it will be necessary to buy a toothbrush for them, in order to keep their teeth clean and healthy.
Below, the children’s dentist at Blue Sky Dental offers some thoughts for parents with children approaching this age.
What toothbrush to buy for young children
A quick look at any dental section in a supermarket or high street chemist, shows what a bewildering range of products there are available to help you to keep your mouth healthy. Whilst choice can be a good thing, it can also be a little confusing at times. Thankfully, a few simple tips should help to to buy a toothbrush that is appropriate for your child.
The first, seemingly obvious piece of advice, is that the head of the toothbrush should fit easily into your child’s mouth. A toothbrush that is too large for a smaller mouth will not be manoeuvred around the teeth as easily and it is quite likely that some of the teeth, probably those at the rear, will not be cleaned effectively when brushing.
For very young children, you should look for a brush with soft bristles. This will reduce the chances of damage to the teeth caused by worn enamel thorough brushing too hard. It will also make it more comfortable for them when they first start to brush their teeth and are likely to do so more willingly.
Getting a young child to give their teeth more than a cursory brushing can be difficult at the best of times, and even more so when they are tired and grumpy at bedtime. It makes sense, therefore, to make this as much fun as you possibly can. To help with this, there are a wide range of toothbrushes available which are decorated with a variety of cartoon characters. The chances are that your child will have a favourite, or a favourite colour at least. Allow them to choose their own toothbrush as far as possible as this will encourage them to use it.
Make sure that the handle of the toothbrush is thin if your child is very young. Children have small hands and may find it difficult holding one with a thicker handle.
Electric or manual?
Even some adults are not sure whether a manual or electric toothbrush is best for them. Whilst it is perfectly possible to brush your teeth well with a manual toothbrush, the general consensus amongst dentists is that an electric one is better for effective cleaning. If you think about it, as an adult; when you have a scale and polish at Blue Sky Dental, the hygienist uses an electric brush to give your teeth the final clean and polish, and not a manual one.
Especially if a child is tired, an electric toothbrush does a lot of the work that the arm would otherwise do. Children also like the feel of the brush in their mouth and are likely to experiment in making sounds as the brush whirrs around. All of this will encourage them to brush their teeth well; though do remember to supervise them until they are older.
Finally, a quick reminder of some golden rules to follow when you, or your child, are cleaning their teeth.
- Brush both morning and before bedtime for at least 2 minutes
- Nothing, other than water, should be consumed after you have cleaned your teeth at bedtime
- Always use a toothpaste that contains fluoride and don’t rinse after you have brushed
- If your child is old enough to do so, encourage them to use dental floss from an early age
- Replace your toothbrush when the bristles start to wear out, usually every three months or so
- Remind them to clean not only the front of their teeth, but the back of them too
- Emphasise the importance of good gum hygiene and encourage them to also brush their gums gently
Although it may be a little hard work initially, children usually will start to look after their teeth quite well themselves. It is a good idea to brush your teeth at the same time so that you can both supervise them and allow them to see how it should be done correctly.
Remember too, to bring your young child for regular check ups at our Chelmsford dental practice every six months or so. Ideally, this should be from around one year old, but if your child is older and hasn’t seen a dentist yet, it is not too late to start. You can call Blue Sky Dental for an appointment on 01245 211070.