Preventive Care

Brushing & Flossing Instructions

Preventative care for your child’s smile begins even before the first tooth appears. With regular check-ups and cleanings by your pediatric dentist and daily care at home, your child can have the best chance for a healthy smile.

How can you help your child on a lifetime of healthy smiles? Healthy habits begin at birth by cleaning your child’s gums with a soft cloth and water. After the first tooth erupts, try a soft infant toothbrush to clean the teeth and gums. Avoid bottle feeding after around 12-14 months – and never put your child to bed with a bottle.

Children’s hands and mouths are different than adults. They need to use toothbrushes designed especially 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 or after sickness.

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 degrees angle towards teeth and gums. Move brush back and forth in circular motions.

  • 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 fluoride free toothpaste (such as Baby OraGel Training Toothpaste) until your child is able to spit it out as too much fluoride can stain their teeth.  By age two or three begin teaching your child to brush.  You will still need to brush after they do to ensure you’ve brushed where they’ve missed.  

For most toddlers, getting them to brush their teeth can be quite a challenge.  Below are some tips to make preventative care at home, such as teeth-brushing, something that kids get excited about.

MAKE IT FUN. Our patients enjoy seeing us because we are excited to see them and teach them about how they can become more empowered in their own care. We know your child may only see us a couple times of year, while you oversee the hygiene the rest of the year. It’s no fun to wage a daily tug-of-war with your child over brushing that can leave both of your wanting to avoid it. If you find something that makes these few minutes fun, you may find your child asking to brush!

SHOW & TELL. We use puppets to “show and tell” our patients how to take care of their teeth. Encourage your kids to do a puppet show for you to demonstrate their knowledge, and give them positive feedback.

FOLLOW THE LEADER. If there are older siblings in the household who have developed good habits, try having them brush together. Younger children like to model behavior of older kids. More importantly, they learn from your example. Brushing together gives your child the chance to follow your lead – and gives you both a few minutes of true quality time.

It is also be a good idea to create a “tooth brushing routine”. And stick to the same routine each day.

Preventive dentistry for children helps promote a cavity-free smile by evaluating oral growth and development, providing oral health education, offering teeth cleanings, sealant and fluoride treatments and much more!

Your pediatric dentist is a partner in the continuum of care by helping develop the daily “at-home” healthy habits best suited for your child including brushing, flossing and fluoride recommendations. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children see their pediatric dentist at least every six months for the best defense against tooth decay and other dental problems.

Working in tandem with your pediatric dentist to provide consistent oral care sets the foundation for a lifetime of healthy smiles.