What’s the Best Toothbrush for Children?

Going to the grocery store or pharmacy to pick out a toothbrush and toothpaste can be a daunting task. There are so many types of toothbrushes and toothpastes to pick from, so which one is right for your child?

Infant Finger ToothBrushes

Infant Finger Toothbrush

Infant Finger Toothbrush

Your first task is to find the correct size brush. If you have an infant with only a few front teeth, a finger brush might be your best choice. With these brushes, you can use just water or an infant toothpaste that contains no fluoride, since your child is going to swallow the toothpaste.

Finger brushes are extra soft and work well with infants, until they start to bite your finger while you’re trying to brush! OWW! At this point, you will want to start using a regular toothbrush, but with an infant/toddler size head. The packaging to the toothbrush should specify the corresponding age meant for the brush.

If you have specific questions, be sure to ask at your 1-year dental visit.

Toddler Toothbrushes

Toddler Toothbrushes

Toddler Toothbrushes

At 2 years of age, the toothbrush head usually gets a little larger to help get the hard to reach baby tooth molars that erupt in the back of your toddler’s mouth. When your child begins to spit out his/her toothpaste, you can encourage them to use a toothpaste containing fluoride.

School-Aged Children

Between the ages of 5-8, children start to have adult teeth erupting and are better at spitting out their toothpaste. It’s important to get a larger toothbrush for the larger adult teeth that have erupted, and to start using fluoridated toothpaste which will help to make your child’s teeth healthy and strong!

Children's Toothbrush

Children's Toothbrush

By the time your child reaches 9-10 years old, many adult teeth are now present and an adult toothbrush/toothpaste can be used. Many children around this age also need braces – which can make brushing extra difficult. It’s extra important to keep good oral hygiene around braces to prevent cavities and/or staining around the brackets. There are special toothbrushes/flossers that can help your child keep their braces extra clean.

Brush Longer, Not Harder!

All toothbrushes you buy should have “soft” bristles. Always remember it’s not how HARD you brush your teeth, but how LONG you brush. Your child should be brushing at least twice a day (after breakfast and before bedtime) for two minutes. It may help to have your child listen to their favorite song while they are brushing to encourage them to brush the full two minutes.

In addition to your child’s toothbrush and toothpaste, it’s important to consider using a fluoride mouth rinse once your child can fully spit out the toothpaste and rinse.

Don’t miss our next blog post on how to choose the right toothpaste!

Elizabeth Cook Miller, D.D.S., M.S. is a pediatric dentist at Atkins, Maestrello, Miller & Associates Pediatric Dentistry in Richmond, VA. She is a new mother, active runner and her favorite movie is "Finding Nemo".

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