Brushing and Flossing
The Importance of Brushing and Flossing
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 may use a soft child’s toothbrush. You should choose a non-fluoride toothpaste (like Baby OraGel) until your child is able to spit it out. At the age of two or three (or when your child is able to spit out), you can begin with fluoridated toothpaste, using only a pea-sized amount.
For most toddlers, getting them to brush their teeth should not be a chore. Some suggestions for making tooth brushing less of a battle can include:
- Letting your child pick out a few toothbrushes with their favourite characters and giving them a choice of which one they want to use each time.
- Let your child brush their own teeth first and you brush after.
- Read some children’s books about tooth brushing.
- Use a fun iPad app.
- Continue to encourage healthy habits even if your child is resistant.
- You will be pleased with the long-term results.
It is a good idea to create a “tooth brushing routine” and stick to the same routine each day.
To help your children to understand the importance of brushing, it can be fun and helpful to let them eat or drink something that will “stain” their teeth temporarily and then let them brush their teeth clean.
Brushing and Flossing Instructions
Children’s hands and mouths are different than those of adults. Children should use toothbrushes designed for their smaller and more sensitive anatomies. Both adults and children should use brushes with soft, rounded bristles for gentle cleaning. Change to a new brush about every three months.
We encourage you to continue to supervise your child brushing until they are able to do so themselves – sometimes this can be until pre-teen years. We often advise children to use a gentle, short, back and forth motion to remove plaque. When they are older they can switch to the method described below.
Flossing should start when any two teeth touch and you are not able to brush between them. Use a gentle back and forth motion. Floss between all teeth that are touching and the back of the last 4 molars. An adult should help the child floss until she/he can do it by themselves. Another option is to use pre-threaded floss picks with adult supervision.
How to Brush
Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the teeth. Point the bristles to where the gums and teeth meet.
Use gentle circles. Do not scrub. Clean every surface of every tooth including the chewing surfaces. For the front teeth, use the “toe” or front part of the brush. The key word is gentle. You can hurt the gums by brushing too hard. Gently brush the tongue to remove debris.
How to Floss
Take a piece of floss about as long as your child’s arm. Wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches between the hands. Use your index fingers to guide the floss between the teeth.
Slide the floss between the teeth and wrap it into a “C” shape. It should wrap around the base of the tooth, where the tooth meets the gum.
Wipe the tooth from bottom to top 2 or 3 times or more, until it is squeaky clean. Be sure you floss both sides of each tooth, and don’t forget the backs of the last molars. Move to a new part of the floss as you move from tooth to tooth.
Should my Child always Brush before Bed
Yes. If you don’t get rid of the germs (bacteria) and sugars that cause cavities, they have all night to do their dirty work. Plus, when your child is asleep, he or she does not produce as much spit (or saliva). Saliva helps keep the mouth clean. So brushing at bedtime is very important.
While many people believe periodontal disease as an adult problem, studies indicate that gingivitis (the first stage of periodontal disease) is nearly a universal problem among children and adolescents. Advanced forms of periodontal disease are rarer in children than adults, but can occur.
Chronic gingivitis is common in children. It can cause gum tissue to swell, turn red and bleed easily. Gingivitis is preventable and treatable with a regular routine of brushing, flossing and professional dental care. If left untreated, it can eventually advance to more serious forms of periodontal disease.