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Seven Mistakes Kids Can Avoid While Brushing Their Teeth

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Your child is finally old enough to brush their teeth on their own. Now, that you’ve taught them the importance of good dental hygiene, your next task is to make sure they’re not making these seven mistakes while they’re brushing their teeth.

Mistakes Kids Can Avoid While Brushing Their Teeth

  1. Not Brushing Long Enough and Too Often

    Your children should be brushing their teeth for at least two minutes but no more than four minutes. Some toothbrushes come with timers so your kids will know when to stop. You can use your phone or an egg timer to make sure that your children are brushing for the right amount of time as well. Also, your children shouldn’t be brushing their teeth more than twice a day. Anything over that amount is excessive and causes strain on the teeth and gums.

  2. Not Changing Their Toothbrush

    The general rule for changing toothbrushes is every three months. If your kids are cleaning their teeth with dirty, old toothbrushes, there won’t be much cleaning involved. The longer you keep a toothbrush, the longer it has to attract germs. Moreover, if your child gets sick, you should change their toothbrush even if it hasn’t been three months.

  3. Wrong Bristles

    Soft bristles are key for children. Their gums and teeth aren’t as strong as and adults, so medium to hard bristles can damage their gums and remove tooth enamel.

  4. Uneven Brushing

    Most kids start brushing their teeth in the same spot every time. Instead, make sure your kids are starting in different spots when they brush their teeth. When they start in the same spot, by the time they’ve reached the end of their teeth brushing session, they’re tired, which leads to an uneven clean. By starting with a different tooth each time, they’re ensuring they get an even clean.

  5. Bad Technique

    Left-to-right and right-to-left is the way cartoon characters brush their teeth. Your children need to show better technique and make circular up and down motions when brushing their teeth to get rid of bacteria and food particles. Your kids shouldn’t be scrubbing their teeth but massaging them clean.

  6. Neglecting the Gums and Tongue

    When children brush their teeth, they tend to clean only their teeth. The area where tooth meets gum needs to be cleaned as well. The same goes for the tongue. Most toothbrushes have tongue scrubbers on their backs which will make this part easier for your kids.

  7. Rinsing with Water After Brushing

    When your child is finished brushing, make sure they spit the toothpaste out but don’t rinse their mouths out with water. When you rinse the mouth after the teeth have been brushed the water actually renders the fluoride from the toothpaste less effective. You have to give the fluoride enough time to work. Instead of rinsing with water, let your children rinse with a mouthwash that also contains fluoride. Your dentist can recommend one that is suitable for children.

These seven mistakes aren’t just for kids. Make sure you’re also avoiding the mistakes mentioned so you can set a good example for your children.


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Dr. Stacey Stein
A graduate from the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Toronto, Dr. Stacy Stein provides personalized care to each patient by explaining the risks and benefits of different treatment options in an honest way, and involves patients in their own care. With a focus on preventative, paediatrics, restorative, prosthodontics, and endodontics, she loves working with patients of all ages.