Are Your Children Getting Top Marks in Tooth Brushing?

Tooth brushing is one of the few parenting battles we can’t afford to lose. More children than ever are having to have baby teeth removed under general anaesthetic (which is not only traumatising, but can affect the development of their speech and facial features); and around 40% start school with cavities.

So how can we get the message across at home about tooth brushing? We got in touch with Happy Kids Dental, a family dentist with an in-house paediatric team (whom, as you may recall, we wrote about a few months ago) – and posed a few pertinent questions.

When should my child start brushing their teeth?

You should start brushing as soon as those baby teeth appear. You can use a really soft baby toothbrush, or one of those rubber finger brushes that babies love to chew on. And don’t forget to book baby’s first dental appointment – either when those first teeth pop through, or by the age of 1 even if no teeth are showing.

How often should my child brush their teeth?

Brush children’s teeth for two minutes, morning and evening, focusing on all the surfaces, especially the back teeth where cavities usually start.

How much toothpaste should my child use?

Before the age of 3, the rule is, use a smear of toothpaste containing no less than 1000ppm fluoride. Children between 3 and 6 can graduate to a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, which should contain more than 1000ppm fluoride. Children over 6 can use regular toothpaste, containing 1350-1500ppm fluoride. Get your child to spit out their toothpaste after brushing, but don’t rinse their teeth with water, as this washes away the cavity-preventing fluoride.

What about flossing?

You can begin flossing your child’s teeth as soon as they erupt – yes really! Use flossing sticks rather than string, and let your child have a (supervised) go at doing it too. As well as removing any bits of food the toothbrush missed, flossing at this early age establishes a habit that will be more likely to stick than if you introduce flossing later on.

How can I convince my child to brush properly?

One way is to make it fun; another is to incentivise them! Happy Kids Dental’s #lovetobrush campaign does both. Snap your child brushing in unconventional scenarios (on the train? In the pool?) and upload it with the hashtag #lovetobrush to Happy Kids Dental’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages. Every month, they’re giving away prizes, including a free oral care pack to the winning picture!

Want some more tips?

Check out Happy Kids Dental’s video where paediatric dental therapist Leon Bassi gives some great advice on how to help your kids get – and keep – their teeth in top shape.

Located in Marylebone, Happy Kids Dental is a private family dentist with a dedicated paediatric team, open 7 days a week. 020 7078 0822;

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