Tooth Brushing

Brushing & Flossing Instructions

Children’s hands and mouths are different than adults. They need to use smaller 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 when the bristles become bent or distorted.

Wipe an infant’s teeth gently with a moist, soft cloth or gauze square. As babies grow, use a child’s toothbrush with a small, rice grain-sized amount of ADA-approved, children’s toothpaste with fluoride. By age two or three begin to teach your child to brush, but you will still need to brush where they miss.  We know they’re fiercely independent, but you’ll still brush better than they will!

Hold the brush at a 45 degree angle towards teeth and gums. Move the brush back and forth and in little circles along the gumline.  If you notice that the gums bleed it might be because your child has gingivitis or inflammation of the gums.  If this is the case, brush and floss more often and better, but don’t brush harder.

  • 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 and for fresher breath.
  • Floss between teeth every night, especially because most cavities children get occur in-between teeth.  Traditional string floss is still better than WaterPiks, air flossers, and alternative methods.

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 should begin using a soft child’s toothbrush. You should use just a small, rice grain-sized amount of ADA-approved, children’s toothpaste with fluoride until your child is able to spit it out (too much fluoride can stain their teeth or fluorosis).

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 likely have to “help out”).
  • Let your child some children’s books about tooth brushing.
  • Have everyone brush their teeth at the same time.

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