Healthy Dental Habits for Kids Start with the Toothbrush

National surveys have reported that 41% of children aged 2 to 11 years had dental caries in their primary teeth and 42% of those aged 6 to 19 years had caries in their permanent teeth.¹ With these large percentages of decay reported there are approximately 52 million school hours missed annually by school-aged children due to a dental problem.²

Prevention starts at a young age with the use of a toothbrush. There are many children’s toothbrushes on the market that make brushing safe, easy and fun for children. By choosing a fun brush that has recognizable characters and bright colors, you may encourage excitement and enjoyment during a sometimes challenging process.

Choosing a toothbrush that captures the child’s interest is a great way to get them to brush regularly. Kids get excited about colorful designs and brushes that feature beloved characters such as the Power Rangers, Lalaloopsy dolls and characters from movies like How to Train Your Dragon. Brushing is a lot more fun when a favorite movie character, color or design is involved.

So when you encounter parents who are looking for advice on choosing the right toothbrush for their kids, remind them to consider these things:

  • Toothbrush head should be small enough to easily reach all areas of a child’s mouth
  • Toothbrush handle should be easy to grip firmly
  • Bristles should be soft or ultra-soft, flexible and packed together tightly
  • Cartoon characters and other themes help get children interested in using the brush
  • Toothbrushes with built-in timers, such as a flashing light, help the child adopt the correct length of time for brushing (two minutes, twice a day)
  • Toothbrushes should be made by a leading manufacturer of oral hygiene products to ensure quality and safety
  • Toothbrushes should not be shared
  • Toothbrushes should be rinsed after each use, and should be allowed to dry naturally
  • Toothbrushes should be replaced every three months or sooner if bristles become worn or splayed
  • Toothbrushes should be replaced after upper respiratory tract illnesses, such as a cough, colds and influenza

When parents follow these tips, and their kids are given a bright, fun toothbrush that they’re excited about using, they are on the path to a healthy smile for years to come!

Check out all the new, exciting GUM for Kids’ Oral Care items in the May edition of Sparkle and at, or visit to learn more.

  1. Beltran-Aguilar ED, Barker LK, Canto MT, et al. Surveillance for dental caries, dental sealants, tooth retention, edentulism, and enamel fluorosis. MMWR Surveillance Summaries. 2005; 54 (3): 1-44.
  2. Jackson SL, Vann WF, JR., Kotch JB, Pahel BT, Lee JY. Impact of poor oral health on children’s school attendance and performance. American Journal of Public Health. Oct 2011; 101(10): 1900-1906.