Tooth Brushing and Flossing
Children’s hands and mouths are different than adults. They need to use toothbrushes designed for children. Both adults and children should use brushes with soft, rounded bristles for gentle cleaning. Change to a new brush about every three months.
Wipe infant’s teeth gently with a moist, soft cloth or gauze square at least twice a day, especially before sleeping. As babies grow, use a child’s extra soft toothbrush with a small, pea-sized dab of toothpaste. By age two or three begin to teach your child to brush. You will still need to brush where they miss.
When children are seven to eight years old they are usually able to brush on their own. Flossing can be more challenging and this skill develops around age nine.
Hold the brush at an angle (forty five degrees) towards teeth and gums. Move brush back and forth with short strokes, about a half tooth wide.
- Brush the inside and outside surfaces of each tooth, top and bottom.
- Hold the brush flat on top of the teeth and brush the chewing surfaces.
- Gently brush the tongue to remove debris.
- Floss between teeth daily.
When to Begin Brushing
Once your child’s teeth begin erupting, you can begin cleaning them by wiping them with a moist washcloth. As your child gets more teeth, you can begin to use a soft child’s toothbrush. You should use just a pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste or a non-fluoride toothpaste (like Baby OraGel) until your child is able to spit it out. Be sure to ask us about child-friendly flavored toothpaste.
For most toddlers, getting them to brush their teeth can be quite a challenge.
Some suggestions for making tooth brushing less of a battle can include:
- Letting them brush your teeth at the same time
- Letting them pick out a few toothbrushes with their favorite characters and giving them a choice of which one they want to use each time (This will give them some feeling of control over the situation.)
- Try an inexpensive battery-operated brush to add fun to the task.
- Let them brush their own teeth first. You will likely have to “help out.”
- Use child-friendly flossing aids.
- Use a stepstool and mirror to help them be proud of their results.
- Read some children’s books about tooth brushing.
- Have everyone brush their teeth at the same time.
- Continue to encourage healthy habits even if your child is resistant. You will be pleased with the long-term results.
To help them understand the importance of brushing, it can be sometimes fun and helpful to let them eat or drink something that will “stain” their teeth temporarily and then let them brush their teeth clean.