Protect your child’s smile and make brushing easier with these sensory- and mobility-friendly ideas.
Thinking outside the box when it comes to adaptive dental care tools and products can turn your child’s daily brushing routine into a much more enjoyable—and even fun!—event.
Here are 9 of our favorite ways of helping kids of all abilities feel more comfortable and practice independence when caring for their smiles.
1. Reshaped Toothbrush Handle Angle
Traditional toothbrushes are often quite straight, which can pose a problem for kids with limited mobility in their arm or wrist. If your child is able to grip their toothbrush well but the angle is the issue, an easy fix is to use a hairdryer to heat the neck of the toothbrush, making it malleable enough to gently bend it by hand.
2. Commercial Adaptive Toothbrushes
Online shopping has made it easy for parents to find a plethora of useful tools for kids with special healthcare needs. You can find a wide variety of specialty adaptive toothbrushes that are designed for kids, including toothbrushes with loop handles, three-sided toothbrushes, and even toothbrushes with curved bristles.
3. DIY Adaptive Toothbrush Handles
If you’d rather go the DIY route, you’ll find that there are tons of ideas to try. Google and social media groups are great places to find adaptive solutions. Some popular ideas for improving the “gripability” of toothbrush handles include sliding a tennis ball over the handle, using a bicycle handlebar grip, or a golf club grip. Self-adherent bandage wrap can also be used to wrap slippery toothbrush handles.
4. Hands-Free “Auto” Toothbrushes
Hands-free toothbrushes have grown in popularity over the last few years as an easy way for kids to brush their teeth. These devices are lightweight and feature a mouthpiece lined with soft bristles. Your child will hold the device in their mouth, similar to a mouthguard, for the usual two minutes of brush time. These auto toothbrushes come in plenty of cool designs and colors that will have many kids eager to use them.
5. Using a Cuff Utensil Holder
Cuff utensil holders are popular adaptive tools that are often used to help people with limited mobility eat or perform tasks like brushing their hair. Many cuff utensil holders can also be used with toothbrushes for kids who aren’t able to fully grip the handle. Best of all, cuff utensil holders come in many different sizes, making it possible to find options that fit thin standard toothbrushes or thicker powered toothbrushes.
6. Powered Toothbrushes and Water Flossers
Powered toothbrushes and water flossers are a fantastic investment. Powered toothbrushes and water flosser systems don’t require fine motor control to achieve clean, healthy teeth. In fact, studies suggest that powered toothbrushes clean teeth better than standard toothbrushes overall. We recommend looking for a powered toothbrush with a smaller, round, soft-bristled head. Water flosser systems often come with multiple tips so you and your child can experiment to see which is most comfortable.
7. Flossers and Interdental Brushes
Flossing can be quite tricky, both for kids and their parents. If your child doesn’t feel comfortable with using regular string floss, a great alternative are the small handheld flosser picks. You can even find these flossers designed for kids, with soft, rounded edges for safety and tasty flavors, like bubblegum. Interdental brushes are also readily available in many different shapes and sizes. These brushes are great for eliminating plaque along the gum line and between teeth.
8. Sulcus Toothbrushes
A sulcus toothbrush is a unique style of toothbrush that’s often recommended by dentists for patients with sensitive gums or gum disease. These toothbrushes have a very thin rectangular head, often with only two or three rows of soft bristles. The narrower shape is easy to maneuver and can feel less overwhelming for kids who are sensitive to dental tools in their mouths.
9. Dental Wipes and Tooth Gels
Dental wipes and tooth gels can be useful products for dental care when your child isn’t in the mood for brushing. Dental wipes are minimally abrasive and great for wiping down your toddler’s or child’s teeth after meals. Tooth gels can either be used as a toothpaste or applied to the teeth with a clean finger. As an added bonus, many tooth gels have xylitol, which not only makes them tasty for kids but also safely eliminates oral bacteria that cause tooth decay.
Round out your child’s dental care routine with regular six-month visits to their pediatric dentist.
Brushing twice daily for two minutes and flossing every day will go a very long way in helping your child achieve optimal oral health. Regular visits to a pediatric dentist ensure you and your child are on the right track for a beautiful, healthy smile.
We recommend most parents bring their kids in for a checkup and cleaning about every six months. Youngsters who are at a higher risk of developing tooth decay or other oral problems may come in to see us a bit more often.
You can schedule your child’s next appointment today by calling either our Waldorf or Prince Frederick office. For booking during non-business hours you can fill out this online form instead.