Toothbrush Hygiene in Early Education Programs

Brushing children’s teeth during the day is a great way to promote health. It may also reduce the risk of tooth decay for young children. Bacteria can grow on toothbrushes that have been in someone’s mouth. They grow especially well on wet toothbrushes that are kept in closed, dark places. Follow these steps to make sure toothbrushes stay clean. Wet toothbrush bristles should not be covered. They should air dry.

   • Ensure that each child has his or her own toothbrush, clearly marked with the child’s name or some other individual identification. Do not allow children to share or borrow toothbrushes.

   • To prevent cross contamination of the toothpaste tube, ensure that a smear for children less than 3 years of age and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for older children is always dispensed onto a piece of wax paper before dispensing any onto the toothbrush.
   • After the children finish brushing, make sure that their toothbrushes are thoroughly rinsed with tap water, allowed to air-dry, and stored in an upright position so they cannot contact those of other children.
   • Replace toothbrushes every 3-4 months or sooner if the bristles become frayed.
Use the ECELS Oral Health Self-Learning Module for more information on daily tooth brushing in early education programs.  The module is available at Select Professional Development, then Self-Learning Modules, then Oral Health.
 Reviewed and reaffirmed 6/2021