Tooth Brushing

Brushing and 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 and rounded bristles for gentle cleaning. Change to a new brush about every three months.

Wipe infant’s teeth gently with a moist and soft cloth or gauze square. As babies grow, use a child’s toothbrush with a small and pea-sized dab of toothpaste. By age 2 or 3, 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 and short back and forth motion to remove plaque. When children are older, they can switch to this method.

Hold the brush at an angle (45 degrees) towards teeth and gums. Move the brush back and forth with short strokes that are 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-size amount of a fluoride toothpaste or a non-fluoride toothpaste (like Baby Orajel) 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:

  • Let your toddler brush your teeth at the same time.
  • Let your toddler pick out a few toothbrushes with his/ her favorite characters and giving a choice of which one he/ she wants to use each time. This will give some feeling of control over the situation
  • Let your toddler brush his/ her own teeth first. You will likely have to help out.
  • Read some children’s books about tooth brushing.
  • Or, have everyone brush their teeth at the same time.

To help your toddler understand the importance of brushing, it can be sometimes fun and helpful to let him/ her eat or drink something that will stain his teeth temporarily, and then let him brush them clean.

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