Brushing & Flossing Instructions
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 or after any illness.
Wipe infant’s teeth gently with a moist, soft cloth or gauze square. As babies grow, use a child’s toothbrush with a grain of rice sized smear of toothpaste. By age two or three begin to teach your child to brush to form good dental habits for life. You will still need to brush for them though, especially cleaning the areas they miss like the gemlike where bacteria likes to hide. Children do not have the manual dexterity/fine motor skills to brush completely alone until about the age of 8-10.
Dentists and hygienists often advise children to use a gentle, short, circular motion to remove plaque.
Hold the brush at a 45 degrees angle towards teeth and gums. Move the brush back and forth in a short circular motion, 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, especially at bedtime.
When To Begin Brushing
When your child is born, you can begin getting them used to oral hygiene by wiping their gums with a moist washcloth after feeding. Once your child’s teeth begin erupting, you can begin to use a soft child’s toothbrush. You should use just a grain of rice sized amount of toothpaste smeared onto the toothbrush. You can use a baby washcloth to wipe away any excess. Toddlers may use a half-pea size amount of toothpaste. Children 6 and over may use a pea-size amount of 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:
- Let your child brush your teeth at the same time.
- Let your child pick out a few toothbrushes with his favorite characters and giving him a choice of which one he wants to use each time (this will give him some feeling of control over the situation).
- Let your child brush his own teeth first (you will have “help out” after they are done).
- Read children’s books about tooth brushing.
- Have everyone brush their teeth at the same time.
- There are many printable toothbrushing calendars available online.
- We love the 2 x 2 x 20 philosophy: Brush & floss 2 times a day for 2 minutes and read for 20 minutes a day.
- Lay your child down to see easily see inside of their mouth while brushing their teeth
To help your child 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 brush them clean. We offer disclosing tablet samples at our office for our patients and they can be purchased on Amazon.
It can also be a good idea to create a “tooth brushing routine.” And stick to the same routine each day.
Floss any teeth that touch together. Floss before before brushing to remove the food and bacteria then brush it away. Also, the minerals in the toothpaste can then touch the tooth in between.