General and Preventive Dentistry Pediatric Dentistry

How often should children brush their teeth?

Children are in active mode from the moment they wake till the time they go back to their
pillows at night. With all of the activity they have going on routinely, often at times they start
cutting corners on certain parts of their health and wellness like brushing their teeth. The daily
bargain by kids of not brushing or only brushing once is usual in every household.

Here are some of the reason why kids don’t prefer to brush or just brush once a day

  • I am too busy in the morning – Mornings are never a very happy moment for kids as they
    are sleepy, have a blur of activity, are busy finishing their breakfast or homework. For
    other children just waking them up and getting them to reach school is itself a big chore.
    But both these kinds of kids have 1 thing in common : they don’t make time to brush their
  • After children get home from school they get busy with their friends, extra curricular
    activities or their school work. Because of this they at times forget to brush their teeth.
  • For some kids, brushing their teeth is a chore. For some reason they just don’t like
    brushing their teeth even a single time.
  • The next category of kids is the ones who say they forgot to brush their teeth. These are
    the kids who don’t mind brushing their teeth but simply need prompting to make
    brushing part of their routine
How Often Should Kids Brush Their Teeth?

When it comes to brushing , the general rule for children is the same as for adults. Twice a day,
first thing in the morning and just before going to bed at night. It is also recommended that every
child brushes their teeth for 2 to 3 minutes every time. Toothpaste is not like soap which will
lather by just applying it. It requires a technique to brush all teeth and remove the debris.

However we understand that it can be quite difficult to get your kids to brush their teeth twice a
day for that long. This is why it is important to make brushing a fun activity for kids. There are
many ways you can encourage your kids to brush their teeth.

Few activities which can be done for children include making a game out of brushing, or giving
them star stickers every time they brush their teeth. Children can also be shown educational
videos on phone or tv to make best use of the time.

The important point here is to start encouraging kids to practice good oral health early so that
these habits last for the rest of their lives. These regular brushing habits prevent children from
dental issues like tooth pain, cavities and plaque accumulation.

It has come to a conclusion that brushing teeth once a day is a poor choice for the health of the
child. So here are the ways in which you can reinforce the habit of brushing twice a day when
your child is hesitant.

  • When the child makes an excuse of being too busy in the morning, assist your child in
    creating a new morning routine which gives them proper time to brush. At the end what
    we need is just an extra 2 minutes for brushing properly. if your child takes those extra 5
    minutes to just snooze the alarm and sleep , give the child some incentive to wake up on
    time which in a way will give them time for brushing too.
  • If the child says they are too busy at night, just before the child goes to bed , make a habit
    of checking their teeth, and you can get involved with the child by crushing them. This
    way children get motivation to complete the task. Just stand in front of the mirror, play
    some songs and do brushing with your child.
  • If the child says they don’t like brushing, allow the child to choose their own toothbrush
    and toothpaste. This gives them ownership of small decisions which will make them
    exciting for brushing.
  • If the child says i frog, help them make a new routine for themselves. Make a visual chart
    and allow them to put stickers on it when they brush their teeth. After they have gained a
    certain number of stars on their chart, give them a fun gift , which itself can reinforce the
    habit and make it a daily routine.

Brushing ideally should take place in the morning after breakfast and in evening after dinner.
Morning brushing habits ensure that their breath is fresh and teeth are properly cleaned. Brushing
at night removes any sugar, acid or excess food from teeth and gums, aiding in good oral health
throughout the night. Pediatric dentists often use the phrase 2 by 2 during preventive visits to
remind children of the number of times they have to brush and for how long brushing is

Click here to know about the Different Brushing Techiniques for Children and how these would help you as parent to ensure your Child’s Dental hygiene is upto mark.

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General and Preventive Dentistry Pediatric Dentistry

Brushing Techniques for Children

Brushing a child’s teeth or making children brush is the most tedious chore for any parent. At the
same time it’s the most important oral hygiene habit especially in growing age. As a parent it can
be challenging to help teach your child tooth brushing technique that works for them. To help
you out we have created simple guide to get your children for brushing their teeth regularly
without it feeling like a chore.

When to start Brushing your child’s teeth?

Good oral health habits should begin at an early age. Brushing your child’s teeth should begin
when their first tooth begins to come in or as directed by your pediatric dentist. Children need
help with brushing their teeth until they are 6-7 years of age. Even before your child actually has
teeth, it is important to perform oral health care. Use of damp washed cloth or a piece of gauze,
by gently rubbing it over infants gum helps in cleaning of gum pads. Also an infant’s mouth
should be cleaned after every feeding. This can be done by cradling head with one hand while
using free hand to wipe babies mouth with clean wet gauze.

General Brushing tips for children:

  • To brush an infant’s teeth, use a soft bristled, age appropriate toothbrush. Fluoridated toothpaste
    if given at a smaller age, consult your pediatric dentist first for the exact amount of toothpaste to
    be used.
  • For toddlers, just a smear layer of toothpaste is sufficient to use. For children below 3 years of
    age use rice grain amount of toothpaste, whereas for children above 3 years of age use a pea size
    amount of toothpaste.
  • Children aged 6-8 years are capable of brushing on their own. But still the brushing has to under
    the supervision of parents if the child is unsure whether they have cleaned all areas of mouth.
  • Encourage children to brush their teeth at least twice a day , morning and night with a soft
    bristled toothbrush. Hard bristles are too abrasive for young children.
  • If children are lazy enough to brush their teeth, battery powered toothbrushes can also be used
    which can remove the sticky plaque from teeth easily.
  • Children’s toothbrushes have to be replaced every 3 to 4 months or sometimes sooner too if the
    bristles get frayed. Also if your child has a recent cold or flu, it’s better to replace the toothbrush
    to avoid reintroducing germs associated with those conditions.

Technique for brushing child’s teeth

As children cannot clean their teeth thoroughly, they need guidance. Hence parents have to
supervise children’s brushing until the age of 6-8 years.
Step 1: Brushing for kids has to be in a circular motion. Instead of just rubbing brush on teeth,
make them do circles on front and back teeth one at a time. Count the number of circles to 20
and see to it that circular motion is covering all teeth
Step 2: then angle toothbrush at 45 degrees towards the gum of upper and lower teeth and swipe
Step 3: tell the child to open their mouth and then the toothbrush should be moved gently in
back and forth motion with short strokes on back teeth
Step 4: the tip of the brush should be placed in upright position to reach behind front teeth on
top and bottom
Step 5: Brush the tongue to remove bacteria on the surface.

To get the children in routine brushing, brush your teeth at the same time as them so that they
learn by your example. This also helps to keep a check if children are using the correct brushing

Also you can have a check this way to see if your child is brushing the correct way.
The other way to get the child to brush is by playing their favorite song that they can listen to
while they brush. This way children will enjoy brushing and not think of it as a boring daily

Regular dental visits should usually start as early as six months or when a child’s first tooth
erupts or by child’s first birthday. When children are taught oral hygiene habits at an early age,
they are more likely to continue the same habit throughout adulthood. A healthy smile is a happy
smile, so help your kids to have the best possible smile by teaching them the importance of
brushing their teeth in the correct way.

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