Willow Pediatric Dentistry of Tecumseh

When should I start brushing and flossing my child’s teeth?

Prevention is Key

The front two lower teeth usually erupt around six months old. This can vary from babies that are born with teeth to those who do not get their first tooth until they are a year old. Usually all twenty baby teeth will have erupted by age three.

As soon as you see their first tooth - start brushing daily!

As an infant, the teeth and gums can be cleaned with a soft wet gauze or washcloth. This should be done after every night feeding, whether breast or bottle fed. There are soft infant toothbrushes that should be used at bedtime with a small smear of toothpaste, no larger than a grain of rice. At three years of age, you may increase the amount of toothpaste to a pea sized amount. Have the child spit out the excess paste.

Help your child to brush until they are at least 6 years old and then supervise brushing until they can consistently do a great job and clean all areas. You may want to use disclosing tablets or rinse so that you and your child can see areas that need improvement. This may last until the child is 8 to 10 years old and there is no plaque remaining on the teeth after brushing.

BRUSHING: Always use an extra soft or soft toothbrush. The brush should be positioned at a 45 degree angle towards the gums but should not be on top of the gums. Using a circular motion, brush the front of each tooth and then do the same thing on the inner surface of the teeth. Finally brush the tops of the teeth. Brushing your child's tongue will help to reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth.

FLOSSING: Floss cleans the areas of the teeth where the toothbrush bristles cannot reach. Children may need help with flossing for an extended time, even up until age 10 or older. Disposable flossers have made this task easier and flossing should be done as soon as your child's teeth touch each other. For some children who are crowded, this may be very early in their life. This will help prevent cavities from forming between their teeth.

RINSES: A fluoride rinse can be added to the child’s oral hygiene routine at the time where they can spit it out reliably. If a child is at high risk for cavities, have them rinse their mouths just before bedtime and after their last drink of water. Rinse for 30 seconds if possible and then spit out the rinse. This is not meant as a substitute for brushing and flossing.

Brushing Tips:

  • Brushing your teeth helps prevent cavities by removing plaque. It also stimulates the gums which helps to prevent gum disease.
  • Brush twice a day - once in the morning and once at night
  • Replace the toothbrush once the bristles start to wear down or fray (usually between 3-4 months)
  • Start caring for your baby’s gums right away. Gently wash them with a damp washcloth after feedings and before bedtime.
  • Once your child’s teeth erupt, use a small head, soft bristled brush with toothpaste in the amount of a grain of rice
  • Ages 3 and over, you can use a pea-size amount of toothpaste
  • Brush your children’s teeth until they are able to do a thorough job.

Flossing Tips:

  • Flossing helps remove the dental plaque and food particles in between your teeth where a toothbrush cannot reach.
  • Once your child’s teeth touch, it is time to start flossing. Your child will need your help until they are capable of doing this on their own.
  • Floss your children’s teeth until they are able to do a thorough job.
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