Is it okay to switch our son to a hard-bristle toothbrush?

By November 28, 2015 November 30th, 2018 Pediatric Dentist

I’m asking because he doesn’t want to brush his teeth. We have 4 kids and it’s hard to monitor everyone’s brushing habits for 2 solid minutes. Our 6 yr old can handle a toothbrush well but he hates brushing his teeth. Well, I think the real problem is that he would much rather be doing something else so he brushes quickly and I am not sure that he is really getting his teeth clean. I know that soft toothbrushes are recommended for kids but I am wondering if it’s okay to switch him to a hard tooth brush for a good scrubbing job for the short time that he is willing to brush his teeth. Is it okay to make the switch? Thanks. Lavon

Lavon – The best toothbrushes for children have soft bristles, with rounded ends and fit well into their hands. Soft bristles won’t harm the gums. It is also important to help your son floss between his teeth daily. Only flossing can remove plaque-causing debris that gets trapped between the teeth and gums.

No doubt you are a busy mom. Although it’s difficult to supervise your child for two-minutes of tooth brushing, try to think of ways to get it done. Is there a task you have to perform for other children that can be done in the bathroom while your son brushes his teeth? Will setting a timer help? Or perhaps rewarding your son, creating a game, playing music, or finding another way to make brushing his teeth fun and rewarding will help. Is there another adult or teenager at home that can assist you with ensuring that your son thoroughly brushes his teeth?

Remember that a hard-bristle toothbrush can cause more harm than good on growing teeth, and really would require additional supervision to ensure it’s being done gently. We recommend that you stick with the soft toothbrush for your son, regularly speak with him about the importance of brushing his teeth well, and discuss the problems with his teeth that can result if he doesn’t. Try showing him some yucky pictures of teeth that were not properly flossed and brushed. Select pictures that are not overly gross for his age. You can also ask your son’s pediatric dentist for suggestions, or ask other parents what works for them.

This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.