Choosing the right toothbrush is an important part of establishing optimal dental health. Children need a toothbrush that will make their twice-daily brushing habit more enjoyable and effective. Give kids a sense of power over their dental care by allowing them to choose their own toothbrush with your guidance. Simply follow these strategies to help them pick the right one.
Make Sure Kids Know Soft Bristles Are Necessary
One's first instinct may be to assume that hard bristles provide the best way to clean teeth, but that's not true. Aggressive brushing isn't necessarily the most effective kind. Both the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend that children use a toothbrush with soft bristles throughout childhood and adolescence.
Nearly all toothbrushes made for children have soft bristles, so this should not be an issue as your kids search for the right toothbrush. Always double-check, though, and remind kids of the importance of soft bristles. A soft-bristled toothbrush is the most comfortable for repeated brushing, whereas a hard-bristled brush may damage vulnerable tooth enamel.
Set Limits on Price and Toothbrush Type
Before your child starts looking for an ideal toothbrush, set firm limits before the search begins. For example, if you have a strict budget, let your children know that they can't spend over a set amount of money on the toothbrush. If you want your child to use only an electric toothbrush over a manual one, make that a rule, too. Be specific to avoid disappointments and conflict later.
Let kids know where some wiggle room exists. For example, if kids choose an inexpensive toothbrush, they might be able to spend the rest of the allotted toothbrush-buying budget on other dental care tools. They may opt to buy other dental gear such as floss picks with a favorite character on them or mouthwash in a fun flavor.
Help Kids Do Some Comparison Shopping
As children look at the toothbrushes available to them, they may be overwhelmed if they have lots of choices. Help break that down by teaching them some simple tools of comparison shopping. For example, if your children immediately pick up three different cute toothbrushes, point out the positive and negative sides of each toothbrush.
For example, one toothbrush may be cuter than the others, but it may not fit as easily in the mouth for easy brushing. On the other hand, another toothbrush might have a favorite character, but the toothbrush may not be easy to hold. Pointing out the positives and negatives of each choice can help kids weigh the pros and cons more easily.
Offer Positive Feedback on Kids' Choices
Children will look to their parents for confirmation that they chose a good toothbrush. If you are satisfied with your kids' choice, be sure to lavish praise on them. That will help them feel more confident the next time they need to make choices for themselves. This may also inspire positive feelings when they see the toothbrush, too.
Be specific when offering praise. For example, you may explain to your child that you saw how carefully she compared three different top choices and praise how she went about making her final choice. If she trusted her own taste or simply went with which toothbrush looked more fun, validate her feelings and reasons for choosing the toothbrush she ultimately picked.
Provide Multiple Choices for Very Young Kids
Very young children are not going to be up for choosing a toothbrush in the same way their older siblings might be. However, you can still give them a choice by holding up two to three of your top choices for them in the store. Let them point to the one they want. This is a fun and easy way to help younger kids feel included and excited about brushing their teeth.
Finally, kids need to replace their toothbrush at least every three months, according to the Center for Pediatric Dentistry at the University of Washington. Contact Town Center Family Dental to make appointments for your kids' next check-ups. Encourage your kids to ask their dentist any questions they have about brushing their teeth and picking a great toothbrush.