Tooth Brushing and Flossing

Brushing and Flossing Instructions

Little girl flossing her teeth in front of a mirrowChildren’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 infants teeth gently with a moist, soft cloth or gauze square. As babies grow, use a child’s toothbrush with a small, pea-sized dab of toothpaste. By age 2 or 3 begin to teach your child to brush. You will still need to brush where they miss. Dentists and hygienists often advise children to use a gentle, short, back and forth motion to remove plaque. When children are older they can switch to this method.

Hold the brush at an angle (45 degrees) towards teeth and gums. Move brush back and forth with short strokes, about a half tooth wide.

  1. Brush the inside and outside surfaces of each tooth, top and bottom.
  2. Hold the brush flat on top of the teeth and brush the chewing surfaces.
  3. Gently brush the tongue to remove debris.
  4. 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 a fluoride toothpaste or a non-fluoride toothpaste (like Baby OraGel) until your child is able to spit it out (too much fluoride can stain their teeth).

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:

  1. Letting him brush your teeth at the same time.
  2. Letting him 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).
  3. Let him brush his own teeth first (you will likely have to “help out”).
  4. Read some children’s books about tooth brushing.
  5. Or have everyone brush their teeth at the same time.

To help him understand the importance of brushing, it can be sometimes fun and helpful to let him eat or drink something that will ‘stain’ his teeth temporarily, and then let him brush them clean.

It can also be a good idea to create a “tooth brushing routine” and stick to the same routine each day.