Top tips to help your kids brush their teeth

Yesterday my friend Chris told me about the toothbrushing battles he's been having with his three-year-old. 'It usually ends up with him screaming and laying on the floor and me brushing as best I can,' he sighed.

Having been through similar battles in our house, I totally sympathise. But alarmingly, the last Children's Dental Survey reported that nearly 40% of UK five-year-olds have obvious signs of gum disease and poor oral health, and 57% of eight-year-olds had obvious decay signs.

If you're having trouble persuading your kids to clean their teeth properly, these adorable Flipper brush and bristle guards (£5.99), available from Lakeland and myflipper may help. 'Children respond positively to animal characters and often use toys to develop role play situations for everyday life,' explains Dr Cheryl Lee Butz from London children's dental surgery Toothbeary. 'Tots-eye-view products can help reduce dental fear.'


Here are Dr Butz's top tips to help your child look after their teeth:

  • Research shows that if you start methodical and consistent tooth-brushing from early on, you'll face fewer dental problems during your child's pre-teen and adolescent years.
  • Remind yourself that you're in charge and avoid power struggles. Use positive reinforcement, for example tell your child they're doing a super job and you only want to polish up afterwards to ensure all teeth sparkle equally.
  • Routines help settle a child. Offer gentle but persistent reminders that oral hygiene is not negotiable. Over time your child will associate the daily routine with 'clean teeth'.
  • Once the first tooth appears, start using a children's toothpaste with fluoride (a pea-sized amount for children under 6). Use a soft bristle brush.
  • Brush for two minutes twice a day. Place the toothbrush alongside the teeth with the bristles at 45 degree angle to the gum line and gently move the brush in a small circular motion, cleaning one tooth at a time. Don't forget to lightly brush the tongue, too.
  • Keep sugary and acidic foods to mealtimes only.
  • Always supervise brushing until your child is at least 8.

written by Liz Jarvis