Tooth Brushing With Children

Brushing & Flossing Instructions

Both adults and children should use brushes with soft, rounded bristles for gentle cleaning. Change to a new brush about every three months.

Wipe the infant’s teeth gently with a moist, soft cloth or gauze square. As babies grow, use a child’s toothbrush with a small, pea-sized dab of toothpaste. By age two or three begin to teach your child to brush. You will still need to brush where they miss. Parents should assist and supervise their children in brushing their teeth until they are at least 7 years old. That is the age that manual dexterity is better achieved which will lead to better control of the toothbrush. 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.

Hold the brush at a 45-degree 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.

Where Your Child Comes First!

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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 smear for 2-3 year olds and a pea-sized amount (4-5 year olds) of toothpaste until your child can spit it out.

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 give 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 teeth first (you will likely have to “help out”).
  • Let 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.