So you’ve finally got your toddler used to their morning and nightly toothbrush and toothpaste routine. Congratulations! That is a big accomplishment.
Now might be the time when you have questions about improving or making changes to your tooth brushing technique for your child. You may be thinking, “am I brushing my child’s teeth the right way?”. Or maybe your older child needs a refresher on their tooth brushing skills.
Our pediatric dental experts are here to help! While you can always ask us to demonstrate our recommended brushing technique in office, you can always refer to this guide to recall a step or to craft fun tooth brushing visuals with your child.
Let’s go over the best tooth brushing technique for kids and teens.
#1 Recommended tooth brushing technique for children’s teeth
The right technique can make all the difference! Not just to improve plaque removal, but also make the process more comfortable for you and your child.
Before starting your child’s tooth brushing, get you and your child in a comfortable position for the tooth brushing process. This may be them lying down with you sitting at their head or you both standing up in the bathroom.
As the parent, you know your child’s capability best so assist depending on that – but always supervise as most children won’t have the fine motor skills to brush on their own until age 8.
Now let’s get ready for a proper brushing technique!
- Wet your child’s toothbrush and apply the right amount of toothpaste for their age. Most children will need a soft-bristle toothbrush and a pea-size amount of toothpaste, but your child’s dentist will let you know at their regular dental check-up.
- Brush at a 45-degree angle. This keeps the toothbrush angled at your child’s gum line so you can make sure to remove the plaque that builds near their gums and any trapped food particles.
- Brush inside surfaces first. This is one of the most commonly missed spots when brushing! Brush on the inside or tongue-side surfaces of your child’s bottom teeth before moving to the top teeth.
- Don’t forget the chewing surfaces or crowns of their teeth too. Make sure to pay extra attention to your child’s molars as these teeth are most susceptible to cavities due to their pits and fissures, aka the deep grooves of your child’s premolars and molars.
- Ask them to use their tongue to ensure smoothness. This helps them understand what plaque can feel like and makes sure they get a thorough cleaning! Plaque will have a gritty-feel to it and once all surfaces of your child’s teeth feel smooth, it’s been properly removed.
There you have it! Your pediatric dentist’s #1 recommended tooth brushing technique. A few things to keep in mind while you and your child follow these step-by-step instructions:
- Don’t rush. Use as much time as you need to brush all of their teeth – 2 minutes, twice a day is the standard. Think of this tooth brushing time as a way to spend quality time with your child. With younger children, talk them through what you’re doing in terms they can understand. “Sugar bugs” is a popular term for plaque and you can refer to your child’s toothbrush and toothpaste as magic tools to stop the cavities sugar bugs make when they sit on their teeth for too long. Some parents even tell their children the sugar bugs poop cause cavities! You can always ask our pediatric dental experts for tips to teach your child about oral hygiene using age-appropriate, sensitive terms.
- Think of tooth brushing as a massage for your child’s gums and teeth. This could help bring perspective to you as the toothbrusher or your teen. After all, everyone likes a nice massage! And your child’s teeth and gums will benefit from a gentle massage as well. During your child’s tooth brushing, brush near their gums in a circular motion. This will help promote blood flow in the gums, strengthens the tissues, and reduces inflammation.
Still have questions about the best tooth brushing technique for kids?
The Kids Smiles team is here for you. If you have any questions about your child’s dental health, oral health, or dental habits, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us and schedule an appointment.
Our team is led by renowned pediatric dentist Dr. Frank Sierra who has more than 25 years of experience providing compassionate, expert care for children and teens.