Just imagine how amazing it would be to wield a magic wand that had the power to put a smile on the face of a child in foster care. By partnering with Operation Shiny Teeth, you can! It’s our mission to promote well-being, build confidence, and spread smiles among children in the foster care system through the gift of essential needs. By providing them with brand-new toothbrushes and toothpaste, we enable them to shine bright and face the world with a renewed sense of self-esteem.
A brand-new toothbrush will serve as their very own magic wand. It holds the potential to help them find the smile they thought they’d lost. But with so many choices out there, grocery stores, pharmacies, and big box retailers have devoted entire aisles to oral health. Whether we’re talking about your own children, foster kids in your care, or donations you hope to make to Operation Shiny Teeth and the children we serve, we looked to the experts for some tips for choosing the right toothbrush…
Look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance
When you see the ADA Seal of Acceptance on the packaging of a toothbrush, you can rest assured that it meets the high standards of the American Dental Association (ADA). Since its founding in 1859, it has been the ADA’s mission to help dentists succeed and support the advancement of the health of the public. The 159,000+ member-strong organization advocates for public health, collects the latest research on oral health, provides evidence-based insights, disseminates data on industry trends, and so much more. The seal has been the leading mark of dental product safety and efficacy since 1931.
Keep Them Engaged
Oral Healthcare Portal, Dentaly.org, recommends that a great move for parents and foster parents of kids aged 3 to 7 is to choose manual toothbrushes with compact heads for little mouths, soft bristles to gently remove debris and plaque, oversized handles with a good grip, and fun cartoon characters to help endear them to this object they’ll use twice a day. Of course, you don’t want them to get TOO attached. The ADA recommends replacing toothbrushes every 3 to 4 months. When they’re a little older – say between 8 to 10 – you may want to invest in an electric toothbrush that plays a favorite tune to help keep them interested for the full two minutes the ADA recommends for brushing session duration. The vibration will also further aid in the removal of plaque buildup.
All Grown Up (Almost)
Once kids are 11 or 12, they should be ready for an adult-sized toothbrush. You’ll still want to seek a bright design to keep things fun and engaging, and soft, round-ended bristles to ensure gums don’t get irritated. Since kids this age will have most to all of their permanent teeth, you’ll want to make sure they’re brushing their teeth regularly and getting bi-annual checkups at the dentist.
Don’t Forget Those Baby Teeth (and Gums)
Even before they have teeth, you can use a soft piece of gauze over your finger to rub along a baby’s gums. And once those first pearly whites emerge, a silicone brush you can fit over your index finger makes a great first introduction to brushing. Once they’re a little older and have a better grip on objects, you can introduce them to a toddler-friendly brush – which should have a small head and soft bristles. Be sure to check the packaging for age recommendations.
By partnering with Operation Shiny Teeth, you can help us deliver these “magic wands” into the hands of children in foster care! Visit OperationShinyTeeth.org to learn more about holding a toothbrush and toothpaste donation drive, hosting a packing party, or charitable giving to support our efforts.