Getting your child used to brushing their teeth is an important part of giving them a good foundation for avoiding dental problems in adulthood.

Start young

As soon as your child gets their first milk tooth (around 6-8 months old) it is important to teach them the routine of brushing their teeth twice a day. This means your child will learn that their toothbrush is their teeth’s best friend. During your child’s first year, brush their teeth without toothpaste and use an extra soft toothbrush with a small brush head. Once your child is around one year old it may be a good idea to start using a little bit of fluoride toothpaste – an amount no bigger than your child’s fingernail. Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel and thus helps to protect against tooth decay. Increase the amount of toothpaste as your child gets older. At the age of six, your child may have about one centimetre of toothpaste on the brush.

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Brushing your own teeth is fun, but help is needed

Once your child has started to get all of their milk teeth (about 2-3 years old) take extra care when brushing the chewing surfaces of their back teeth. Do this with small circular movements along the gum line. Once your child has reached an age when they want to start brushing their own teeth, this is perfectly fine – just remember that children’s motor skills are not sufficiently developed for them to be able to brush their teeth completely on their own until they are about 9-10 years old, so you have to help to make sure it gets done properly.

First adult tooth

When the first adult tooth comes through (at 5-7 years old) it is important to make sure it does not get overlooked when the teeth are being brushed. It often comes through behind the milk teeth, making it easy to overlook. After this, more will come, and by the time the child is about 13 years old, they will have 28 adult teeth.

  • Introduce a routine of brushing teeth in the morning after breakfast, and at night before bed, early on.
  • Use a toothbrush that is soft, to lessen the risk that your child will think brushing their teeth is unpleasant.
  • Replace the toothbrush at least every three months. If you use an electric toothbrush for your children, replace the brush head every month.
  • Teach your child that it takes time to brush your teeth. Having a clock nearby will help your child develop time perception.
  • Avoid giving your child sugary snacks.
  • Your child’s toothpaste contains fluoride, but it may be helpful to supplement this with a fluoride mouthwash or fluoride tablets.

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