Spring 2014 Health Link Online

HealthLink Online

Uniting Children, Parents, Caregivers, and Health Professionals

Tooth Brushing in Child Care

Tooth Brushing in Child Care

Practicing oral hygiene in child care settings teaches a lifetime habit. Brushing teeth as part of the daily curriculum makes up for any lack of adequacy of oral hygiene in children’s home settings.

Tooth brushing removes some of the plaque on children’s teeth. Plaque holds harmful bacteria against the teeth.
Be sure to do it right! Supervise tooth brushing. You can do it as a group activity.

Prepare for each child a small amount of fluoride toothpaste on a brush or the edge of a cup. Use a pea sized amount of toothpaste for children over 2 years. Use a smear for younger children. Wearing disposable gloves, the teacher/caregiver should assist one child to demonstrate how to brush all quarters of the mouth while the other children follow along.

Children who want to spit can spit into a cup. Rinsing and spitting are not necessary. The small amount of toothpaste is not harmful if a child swallows it.

Be sure that the children do not share toothbrushes. Identify each child’s toothbrush by color of the brush or a colored rubber band on the handle, and by the child’s name. After tooth brushing, rinse the brushes with tap water and store them with the brush head up, touching nothing and open to the air to dry. You can buy commercial toothbrush storage racks or simply store each brush in a cup with the child’s name on it.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends against soaking toothbrushes in mouthwash or disinfectant, washing them in a dishwasher or using other germ-killing devices. Such measures may damage the bristles.

Replace toothbrushes every 3-4 months so the bristles do the desired cleaning.