If a child is younger than age 3, parents should clean their child’s teeth with water and a soft-bristled toothbrush. As your child becomes more comfortable with brushing and is better able to spit, you can transition your child to using fluoride toothpaste. Use no more than a smear of toothpaste when brushing and wipe the excess fluoride from your child's teeth with a damp washcloth. Then encourage your child to spit out the remaining toothpaste in their mouth.
After age 3, parents should assist their children using a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small strip of fluoride toothpaste. Parents should apply the toothpaste to the toothbrush to ensure that no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is used and ensure their children do not swallow excess toothpaste. Parental assistance when brushing is usually required until the child gets older and develops their manual dexterity. This usually occurs around second or third grade.
When you brush your teeth, move the brush in small circular motions to reach food particles that may be under your gum line. Hold the toothbrush at a 45° angle and brush slowly and carefully, covering all areas between teeth and the surface of each tooth. It should take you 2 -3 minutes to thoroughly brush your teeth. Brush up on the lower teeth, down on the upper teeth and the outside, inside and chewing surfaces of all of your front and back teeth. Brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth before you rinse.
Brush your teeth three times daily to avoid the accumulation of food particles and plaque:
As soon as the bristles start to wear down or fray, replace your toothbrush with a new one. Do not swallow any toothpaste; rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after you finish brushing. It is important to carefully floss and brush daily for optimal oral hygiene.
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 between your teeth every day.
Pull a small 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. Floss behind all of your back teeth.
An alternative to traditional flossing is floss picks. Floss picks are short pieces of floss suspended by a piece of plastic are usually less difficult to use than floss alone. Floss picks work great with young children who want to floss on their own by lack the ability to use normal floss.
Floss at night to make sure your teeth are squeaky clean before you go to bed. When you first begin flossing, your gums may bleed a little. If the bleeding does not go away after the first few times, let the Dr. Jeff know at your next appointment.