As a parent of a young child, you have several responsibilities in a variety of areas. One of these is the oral care of your child. With infants, toddlers, & young children you will be in charge of the important task of brushing and flossing their teeth.
At Salt Lake Pediatric Dentistry, our children’s dental services include a full range of preventive services, including helping parents with these important care areas at home. Let’s go over some basic tips we can offer on brushing and flossing your child’s teeth.
As soon as your child begins to show visible teeth developing, you should begin brushing them twice per day using a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste. Some basic tips for the very early stages here, during which you’ll be fully responsible for brushing:
- Always set the toothbrush against the gum line, or the area where the tooth meets the gums.
- Place the brush at a 45-degree angle, allowing you to reach both the gums and the surface of the tooth while brushing.
- Move in gentle, light circles on the outer surface of each tooth, then on the inside surfaces and chewing levels.
- Use only a grain of rice sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste once a day until your child can spit. This amount of fluoride is safe to swallow and is less than a fluoride supplement.
Over time, as your child becomes more capable in several areas, you can begin teaching them to brush their own teeth. Stand behind them in the bathroom to start with, helping show them how to hold the brush, move their arm and even perform tasks like spitting and cleaning the brush off. If possible, turn this into a fun learning experience for your child that comes with minor rewards, such as picking their own toothbrush if they do well with their brushing. By age 10 or so, most children should be fully capable of brushing on their own.
Flossing starts a bit later than brushing – it should begin as soon as your child has two teeth directly next to each other, creating a small crevice where food or other items can stick. Once this happens, flossing should be done daily, using the following basic steps:
- Break off the proper amount of floss and wind the majority around your index or middle finger, whichever you choose. Hold it firmly between this finger and your thumb.
- Using a plastic flosser is another great option that is often easier for the child and for parents trying to floss the child’s teeth.
- Floss the areas between connected teeth gently, using a rubbing motion. Never snap or press the floss into their gums. When you hit the gum line, curve the floss so it stays near the tooth. Use up-and-down motions to remove debris from each gap area.
- Repeat for all areas & gaps between teeth.
As is the case with brushing, your child will eventually be able to floss their teeth by themselves. Many parents find a flossing aid is beneficial during these early years, when children might not quite have the dexterity in their fingers to adequately floss on their own. After a transition period where you show them what to do and help them along, kids can floss their own teeth.
For more tips on helping young children with brushing and flossing, or to learn about any of our pediatric dental services, speak to the staff at Salt Lake Pediatric Dentistry today.