Choosing a toothbrush for your child can be daunting when there are so many options. Kids' toothbrushes vary in size and shape depending on need and ability, both of which change as they grow. Following a few simple guidelines can help you choose a toothbrush that cleans your child's teeth effectively and encourages good dental care habits in the process.
No matter what their age, your children's toothbrush should fit comfortably in their mouths and be easy to hold and manipulate. Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles that are made of a round-ended or "polished" material. These types of brush heads clean kids' teeth well without being rough on their gums. It's also important that your children's toothbrush appeals to their preferences so that it's fun using it every day and night.
Babies and Toddlers
It is important to start your baby on good oral habits early, according to the Singapore Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF). Cleaning the gums of your baby with a small piece of clean, wet muslin or gauze daily from birth helps get them started on cleaning their teeth in the future.
Toothbrushes for babies come in bright colours and have very small heads designed to fit inside your baby's mouth. Brushing your baby's mouth keeps his gums clean and helps acclimatise him to a twice-daily tooth-brushing routine.
By the age of two, your toddler is likely to want to participate in tooth-brushing time. Toddler toothbrushes have small heads and large handles with soft grips that are easy for small hands to hold. At this age, your tot hasn't yet developed the control to brush their own teeth effectively, but they can take a turn before or after Mum or Dad. Electric toothbrushes are available for this age range and older children, and can be engaging and fun for young children to use.
Ages Five to Eight
Between the ages of five and eight, your child is getting ready to be independent with their dental health care. Toothbrushes for kids in this age group have slimmer handles than toddler toothbrushes in order to suit a child's more dexterous grip and larger jaws. By the time they reach school-going age, they may be starting to clean their own teeth but may still require your supervision and help until about eight years old, according to MSF.
Many toothbrushes for children in this age range (and younger) come in designs with popular cartoon characters like the Minions for example, which are specially designed for children five years of age and older who have a combination of baby and adult teeth in their mouths. Choosing your child's favourite character helps maintain their interest in brushing their teeth.
Kids aged eight and above can actually brush their teeth themselves. Their toothbrushes look similar to adult products but still have slightly smaller heads and larger handles. Both electric and manual toothbrushes are appropriate for preadolescent children.
Although both types clean teeth and gums equally well, suggests SingHealth, electric toothbrushes can make the process easier for children who struggle to use a manual brush efficiently.
Children's toothbrushes are essential to good oral health care, but simply buying the right toothbrush for your child doesn't guarantee they will have clean and healthy teeth. Toothbrushes should be used after breakfast and before bed, and teeth should be flossed once a day as soon as two teeth are touching. When the bristles fray and no longer stand up straight (or after three months, whichever comes first), it's time to buy a new toothbrush.
Children's toothbrushes often need replacing more frequently than adults', according to the American Dental Association. Buying the right toothbrush for your children isn't only about making sure they have clean teeth and gums; it's about setting up good oral health habits that will last them for a lifetime. Follow the age range guidelines on the packaging and involve your children in choosing a new toothbrush so that they have a brush that fits the mouth well, is comfortable to hold and that they love to use.