Can you tell me everything I need to know about brushing a kid’s teeth?

Personally, I can tell you diddly squat about brushing a kid’s teeth. Happily, however, I know man who can tell you everything you need to know plus a little bit more. His name is Dr Mark Hughes. He is an award-winning dental surgeon. He is the founder and lead clinician at Harley Street Dental Studio. And when I met him at a promotional event for FOREO’s ISSA mikro and ISSA mini 2 toothbrushes, he very kindly agreed to look after my bag while I went to the toilet. Ha, got you. He actually agreed to serve up his top tips for brushing a kid’s teeth. Want to hear them? Fantastic, because here they are…

1. Start early

“Don’t wait until your child is two or three years old to start brushing, get in as soon as possible. A baby’s first teeth begin coming through when they are five or six months old, and that is the time that you need to start trying to remove the plaque from their teeth. ”

2. Look into finger brushes

“Finger brushes can be a great help when it comes to brushing a really, really small child’s teeth. You pull them over your finger, put a little bit of toothpaste on and then pop it in your child’s mouth and rub around. Don’t worry, they will protect your finger if your kid decides to bite down on it.”

3. Tickle your kid’s fancy

“Getting a child to brush their teeth is very challenging, especially when they have teeth coming through and their gums are sore. With my own children, I found that using a soft, silicone-headed brush that vibrated got the best results. The vibration is key for two reasons. First, it tickles the gums, providing a nice sensation. Second, the vibrations do a lot of the cleaning for you, negating the need to rub and scrub.”

4. Check your kid’s toothpaste’s ingredients

“A lot of the homeopathic toothpastes come without fluoride. And if a toothpaste doesn’t have fluoride, your kid is not going to get extra help to fight the bugs, fight the decay and strengthen the teeth or the extra protection against cavities.”

5. Got an under 2? Go easy on the toothpaste

“I always tell parents whose children are under the age of 2 to put no more than a little pea of toothpaste on their child’s brush. This is because a child that age swallows the vast majority of the toothpaste that enters their mouth.”

6. Don’t leave the night bottle in your little one’s cot

“If you are bottle feeding with milk, make sure that you rescue the night bottle from the cot rather than leaving it for your child to soothe on. Milk is a carbohydrate, so if they are constantly sipping it all night, they are constantly sipping sugar all night.”

7. Brush, or attempt to brush, twice a day

“Like adults, kids need to brush their teeth twice a day. So, try to get something in their mouth when they wake up in the morning, and then attempt to do the same at night. In an ideal world, the night time brushing would happen after the night bottle, but I’m well aware that toddlers rarely let you live in an ideal world. Given this, just try and get a brush in their mouth as late in the evening routine as possible, as this will remove the bulk of the bacteria that has been growing in the mouth throughout the day.”

8. Lead by example

“When your child gets a little bit older, they often want to do whatever you are doing. With this is mind, a good way of getting a slightly older toddler or a pre-schooler to brush their teeth is by getting your brush out and doing it with them. Say something like: ‘Daddy’s doing it, mummy’s doing it, it’s time for you to do it.'”

9. Create stories

“If your child isn’t swayed by seeing you brush your teeth, creating stories around their favourite characters or toys could work. For example, you could say, ‘Elsa brushes her teeth before the start of Frozen’, or pretend to brush the teeth of your kid’s favourite cuddly toys.”

10. Expect good and bad

“Ultimately, trying to get your kid to brush their teeth properly is the same as trying to get your kid to do anything properly. Some days will be great, others you will get nowhere, but you just need to keep trying, make some effort twice a day and build it into the routine.”

So, there you have it. Those are Dr Mark Hughes top tips around brushing a kid’s teeth. But that’s not all this article is going to give you. Oh no. We’re also going to provide you with two bonus tips about healthy eating and drinking.

1. “Food-wise, the big thing you have to be careful about is the number of times your child is exposed to sugar each day,” says Dr Hughes. “Dried and fresh fruits are great things at meal times, but if your kids snack on them during the day their teeth get attacked by acid throughout the day rather than just at meal time. My suggestion would be to confine sugary foods to lunch and dinner and to get your kids to snack on carrot and cucumber rather than dried fruit.”

2. “Drinks-wise, flavoured waters and diluting juices contains a lot of sugar, so try to get your child to sip on water during the day,” advises Dr Hughes. “At meal times juices and smoothies are okay, but at all other times water is the best option.”

Until next time…

Father-Hood spoke to Dr Mark Hughes at the FOREO Mikro Dentist event in central London. As well as getting these great tips, we were gifted a free toothbrush. For more information about FOREO’s dental products visit FOREO.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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