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.


Wipe infant’s 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 two or three 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 a 45-degree angle 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-sized amount of toothpaste (such as 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:

girl-brushing-teeth
  • 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 read children’s books about tooth brushing.
  • Have everyone brush their teeth at the same time.

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.

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


? What’s the best way to clean my baby’s teeth?

Even before your baby’s first tooth appears, we recommend you clean his gums after feedings with a damp, soft washcloth. As soon as his first tooth appears, you can start using a toothbrush. Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head. You most likely can find a toothbrush designed for infants at your local drugstore.


? At what age is it appropriate to use toothpaste to clean my child’s teeth?

Once your child has a few teeth, you can start using toothpaste on the brush. Use only a tiny amount for each cleaning, and be sure to choose toothpaste without fluoride for children under two, because too much fluoride can be dangerous for very young children. Always have your child rinse and spit out toothpaste after brushing, to begin a lifelong habit he’ll need when he graduates to fluoride toothpaste. Children naturally want to swallow toothpaste after brushing, and swallowing too much fluoride toothpaste can cause teeth to stain. You should brush your child’s teeth for him until he is ready to take on that responsibility himself, which usually happens by age six or seven.


Setting a Good Example

As part of the natural learning process, little ones are expert mimics, and you can take advantage of this talent. Brush and floss daily while your child is watching, and he or she will know, at an early age, the importance of your good habits. As soon as your child shows interest, offer a toothbrush of his or her own, and encourage your toddler to “brush” with you. (You’ll find toothbrushes with chunky, short handles that are easy to grip.)

Most children don’t have the dexterity necessary to thoroughly clean their own teeth until they’re about six or seven, so you’ll have to do that part of the job.

Try different tactics to make brushing fun: flavored toothpaste, a toothbrush with a favorite character on it, or singing songs about brushing. The primary goal is to instill healthy oral habits at an early age to set your child up for a lifetime of healthy, cavity-free teeth!


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Chester County Dentistry for Children provides specialized, comprehensive oral health care for infants, children, and adolescents in a fun, stress-free environment that focuses on prevention and education. Our goal is to help your child be healthy and enter adulthood free of dental diseases and dental fears – with good oral health habits that will last a lifetime.

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