The cornerstone to a good at-home oral hygiene regimen is proper brushing and flossing. Practicing excellent dental hygiene avoids unhealthy teeth and costly dental problems.
Use an appropriately-sized toothbrush with soft bristles and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. When you brush your child’s teeth, move the brush in small, circular motions while holding the brush angled towards the gumline. You should brush your child’s teeth for two minutes. Brush up on the lower teeth, down on the upper teeth and the outside, inside and chewing surface of your front and back teeth. Brush the top of the tongue and the roof of your child’s mouth before rinsing.
Brush your child’s teeth twice daily to avoid the accumulation of food particles and plaque:
- In the morning after breakfast
- At bedtime
Discourage swallowing toothpaste, and wipe out or, if able, have your child rinse their mouth thoroughly with water after brushing. As soon as the bristles start to wear down or fray, replace the toothbrush with a new one.
When you can no longer see between teeth, the toothbrush cannot reach between the teeth. For areas between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach, dental floss is used to remove food particles and plaque. Dental floss is a thin thread of waxed nylon that is used to reach below the gum line and clean between teeth. It is very important to floss regularly between teeth that touch.
Pull a 12-inch length of floss from the dispenser. Wrap the ends of the floss tightly around your middle fingers. Guide the floss between all teeth to the gum line, pulling out any food particles or plaque. Unwrap clean floss from around your fingers as you go so that you have used the floss from beginning to end when you finish flossing your child’s teeth. And don’t forget to floss behind all of your child’s back teeth. For children who only have baby teeth, hand-held flossers may be more convenient. Older children can also use hand-held flossers and be sure they are long enough to easily reach behind the very last tooth.
Floss for your child when it is most convenient. When you first begin flossing, your child’s gums may bleed a little. If the bleeding does not stop after the first few times flossing, let a team member know at your child’s next appointment.