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 infants teeth gently with a moist, soft cloth or gauze square xyli-wipes are good. As babies grow, use a child’s toothbrush with a small, pea-sized dab of toothpaste if not spitting out toothpaste, use fluoride free toothpaste until they are spitting out consistently. 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.

Tooth Brushing Instructions

Hold the brush at a 45 degrees 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, or higher than optimal amounts, can have effects on permanent teeth by causing mottling or brown staining (hypocalcified areas) on permanent 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:

  • Start at a very early age by wiping the gums and tongue in infants then brushing with fluoride-free toothpaste for toddlers. Make toothbrushing and flossing a tradition or family activity that’s done
    every day.
  • Pick out age appropriate brushes. Be careful of spin brushes or electric brushes for toddlers. These may not be appropriate in size or motor skill for your toddler. If electric type toothbrushes are considered, view the Sonicare for kids toothbrush at
  • Tell your young child that you will brush first then they can follow or help out. Proper and thorough tooth brushing is a fine motor skill that is not fully realized until your child is around 9-10 years old. Even at this age, there are many places that are missed. Thorough and consistent brushing and flossing is paramount to preventing cavities.
  • Positioning young children in the laying down position will aid in viewing all the teeth for thorough cleansing as well as prepare the child for a laying down position in the dental chair. What is properly practiced at home makes for a more enjoyable first experience at the dental office.
  • Read some books to preschool children about going to the dentist. The Bernstein Bears, Dora the Explorer, Charlie Brown, and other books are available.
  • Be consistent. This will not always be easy. However, making it a priority to fight cavities will benefit your child for a lifetime.

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.