Kids' Teeth: Choosing The Right Toothbrush

You're pretty proficient at brushing your own teeth. You've been doing it for years, of course. But how about when children come along? While many of the principles are the same no matter how old you are, children are smaller and less in the habit of brushing, so you need to cater to some specific needs. Read on for some guidance on how to select a toothbrush!


Your child's toothbrush will be smaller than yours, because different mouth sizes require different brush head sizes. For this reason, it is good practice to adjust what size brush you buy as they grow up. For example, you might use the smallest size from birth to age two, slightly larger for age 2 to 6, larger again up to 12 years, and then the same size as you from then on. As a rule of thumb, the toothbrush head should easily fit in the mouth and be able to brush one or two teeth at a time. A too-large head will make it difficult to maneuver the brush to get to hard-to-reach areas. It isn't absolutely necessary that you move up sizes as your child grows, however. Many people find that a smaller brush head makes it easier for them to reach and thoroughly clean the crevices of their back molars. As long as the brush head isn't too big, your child can adjust according to preference.

Similar principles can be applied to the handle. It should be easy for the child to grip, so it will be larger, even though the child's mouth and hand are small. Note that it will not have the same proportions as your grownup toothbrush.


Take care to choose a toothbrush with soft bristles and rounded tips. Harsher brushes can damage gums and enamel, eventually causing tooth sensitivity. While some people find that their teeth and gums can take a harsher brushing, most do not need it, and children especially require gentle care.

It is important to teach your child that gentle bristles can clean just as effectively as stiffer ones—it is technique and time that count. A vigorous scrubbing for a short amount of time is not equal to a careful brushing to reach all areas of the mouth. Many people brush for only a minute at a time, but two to three minutes is recommended.


While studies reveal that, overall, there is no significant difference in effectiveness between manual and electric brushes, certain circumstances may cause you to opt for an electric brush with rotation oscillation for your child. If he or she tends to brush too hard, this may encourage them to back off and let the brush do the work without hurting them. Or if he or she does not like to brush at all, this will at least be something, and there may even be an element of fun for them. Some electric brushes also come in with a built-in timer, which can let your child know if they are brushing for long enough.

Finally, have your child choose their brush with you. There are plenty of themed brushes, with characters for example, which may encourage consistent brushing. Contact a dentist, such as Ginger Scoggins DDS, for further assistance.