When it comes to choosing a toothbrush for your child, the options can be overwhelming. Big head or little? Chunky handle or slim? Grip or no grip?
The right toothbrush depends on your child’s age and abilities. The head of the toothbrush should fit comfortably in their mouth, and the handle should be easy for little hands to hold and manoeuvre.
Whatever your child's age, the toothbrush you choose should have soft bristles. This will ensure that the toothbrush cleans properly without being too harsh on sensitive gums.
Before your baby’s first tooth comes through, you can clean their gums twice a day with a soft, damp cloth or gauze. This is sufficient to keep your baby’s mouth clean, and it also gets them accustomed to a twice-daily cleaning routine.
When the first tooth appears, switch to a gentle baby toothbrush with a very small head that fits comfortably inside your baby’s mouth.
At this age, most kids love to participate in toothbrushing, but their little hands don’t yet have the dexterity or motor control to do a thorough job. Help them out by choosing a toothbrush with a small head, wide handles, and soft grips, and give their teeth a second brush yourself just to be sure.
Although they won’t be ready to brush completely independently just yet, keep allowing your child to be actively involved in toothbrushing, and keep up the enthusiasm with fun games, character toothbrushes, and lots of encouragement.
Young Children (5-8)
Around this age, your growing child will be able to use a toothbrush with a larger head and a slimmer handle. They will have both adult and baby teeth during this time.
Got a reluctant young tooth-brusher on your hands? The Australian Dental Association (ADA) recommends making teeth time more fun and effective with an electric toothbrush, especially one decorated with your child's favourite character.
According to the Western Australia Department of Health, your child is now ready to start brushing their own teeth. A suitable toothbrush will look similar to an adult’s brush, with a slightly smaller head and a wider handle.
Although a child can manoeuvre a manual toothbrush at this age, the ADA recommends an electric toothbrush for an easier (and more fun!) clean.
The Right Technique And Timing
Choosing the right toothbrush is just the first step in ensuring your child has healthy teeth. It’s also important to make sure your child brushes properly and frequently.
Encourage your child to brush twice a day, after breakfast and before bedtime with a fluoride toothpaste. As soon as two teeth are touching, your child should also be flossing. Supervise toothbrushing time until your child is at least eight years old, and model good oral health habits by brushing and flossing together.
As soon as the bristles start to fray or sag, or after three months – whichever comes first – it’s time for a new brush.