The COI method – that may sound complicated at first, but it is basically quite simple and can be learnt quickly. COI is an abbreviation and stands for Chewing surfaces, Outer surfaces and Inner surfaces. At the same time, it specifies the recommended sequence for cleaning. Below, we explain in detail how the COI method works.
Before you and your child begin cleaning their teeth, you should take a little time to get ready together. Rituals repeated every day, such as the same time and the same place in the daily routine, the same music or atmosphere, that enable your child to recognise that it’s “now time to clean my teeth", are helpful in this respect. Then dampen your toothbrushes and spread a pea-sized quantity of children’s toothpaste onto them. And off we go!
1. Clean chewing surfaces = C
The chewing surfaces of the teeth are first in line. These are thoroughly cleaned of food remnants and deposits with horizontal back and forth movements – first the lower row of teeth and then the upper row. In this context, you should always make sure that your child does not exert either too much or too little pressure.
2. Cleaning the outer surfaces = O
Once the chewing surfaces are clean, it’s the turn of the outer surfaces. In contrast to the chewing surfaces, these are not cleaned with forward and backward movements but with circular movements. These movements are best made in a clockwise direction. Here, you should pay attention that your child also thoroughly cleans the outer surfaces of the back molars.
3. Cleaning the inner surfaces = I
Now the inner surfaces of the teeth are the only ones left. These surfaces are cleaned with a rotary movement from the inside to the outside. Here again, the principle is: first the lower row and then the upper row.
Our tip: don’t rinse
We don’t recommend rinsing with water after cleaning your teeth. The protection from toothpastes containing fluoride and xylitol increases with the amount of time it is in contact with teeth. Children under the age of 3–4 years are not able to spit out, anyway. Swallowing the small amount of toothpaste is not harmful. Remember to thoroughly rinse the toothbrush once you’re finished and to place it in the tooth mug with the brush head upwards to allow it to dry.
In total, cleaning your teeth should take between two and three minutes. This amount of time is needed to attain the best cleaning results. In this respect, it may be helpful to provide a tooth-cleaning clock or timer, or put on a favourite song that is two or three minutes long. Your child will then know exactly how long they still have to go on cleaning and makes cleaning their teeth more fun.
Remember follow-up cleaning
Generally speaking, your child will not have the fine motor skills needed to clean their teeth thoroughly and effectively before they are 7–8 years of age. Until your child is able to write smoothly in joined-up writing, you should help with follow-up cleaning. This is the only way to ensure that deposits and food remnants really are cleaned away thoroughly enough. Plus, it is also a good idea to clean your own teeth together with your child. In this way, they will see you as a role model and learn the right cleaning movements by imitation.