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Brushing & Flossing Instructions
Children’s hands and mouths are different than adults and the use of toothbrushes designed for children are important. All children should brush at least 2x/day for about 2 minutes in the morning and for 2 minutes at night after their last drink and/or snack. It is recommended to allow your child to brush on their own (to gain confidence) but always make sure you brush after them.
Children and some infants need to floss too! Parents should floss their child’s teeth as soon as he or she has two teeth that touch and contact (visibly check the front and back teeth). Flossing is difficult for children to do by themselves, The American Dental Association recommends that parents help with flossing until the age of 10 years old.
When to Begin Brushing
At the appearance of the baby’s first baby tooth, the parent should start brushing their baby’s teeth in the morning and at night. By two to three years old, begin to teach your child to brush. You will still need to brush after them and clean where they missed.
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, use a “smear” or “rice grain” of fluoride toothpaste if your child is under 3 years of age and a “pea-sized” amount for 3-6 year old children. Begin working with your children on spitting the excess toothpaste out rather than swallowing it.
For most young children, getting them to brush their teeth can be quite a challenge. Some suggestions for making tooth brushing less of a battle can include. Here are some recommendations to help:
- Let your child brush your teeth or their favorite stuffed animal’s at the same time.
- Let your child pick out a few toothbrushes with their favorite colors or themes (this will give him/her some feeling of control over brushing their teeth).
- Read children’s books or watch YouTube videos about tooth brushing.
- For their nightly brush, choose a time to brush BEFORE they get sleepy and agitated.
Hold the brush at a 45 degrees angle towards the teeth and gums. Move the brush in circular motions.
- 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.
- Change the toothbrush every 3 months.
Tips for Flossing
- Floss between all the teeth in the month. Most young kids when left unsupervised will only floss between the front teeth, if they floss at all.
- Slide the floss up to the gum line and wrap it around the tooth in a c-shape and gently scrape the floss against the side of the tooth.
- I find it easier to use handheld flossers for the kids versus traditional string floss.
- It is recommended to floss prior to brushing, that way you can remove food debris from between the teeth and you can brush it away.