Tooth Brushing

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 gums gently with a moist, soft cloth or gauze square. Clean gums, even without teeth, will create a more healthy oral environment. Less bacteria will help decrease the risk of tooth decay when teeth do begin to erupt. As soon as a child’s first tooth erupts, use a child’s toothbrush with a small rice-sized smear of fluoride toothpaste. Yes, it’s ok to use fluoride toothpaste when a baby is as young as 6 months old and can’t spit! As long as you are using a rice-sized smear amount, swallowing this amount of fluoride twice a day is completely safe. “Training toothpastes” are unnecessary and do not prevent tooth decay. By age three, or when your child can predictably spit out all of their toothpaste, you can graduate to a pea sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. 

It is important to always help your child brush, especially at night time, until they can tie their own shoes (at the very least). A child’s manual dexterity takes a significant amount of time to develop, most children can not brush their teeth well on their own until the are around 10 years old. 

Hold the brush at a 45 degrees angle towards teeth and gums. Move the 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 – Begin flossing as soon teeth start to touch each other. 

When To Begin Brushing

As soon as the first tooth erupts! With fluoride toothpaste (see above).

Start flossing every night as soon as teeth start to touch. Some children as young as 2 years old will need their teeth flossed. 

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 then have to “help out”).
  • Read 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 day. Bath time, toothbrushing, then book is a routine frequently used in our office. More tips can be provided by the doctors at your child’s dental visit.