The foundation of sound preventive dental care is brushing. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small pea sized amount of fluoride toothpaste, unless the child is under the age of 3. If a child is younger than age 3, parents should clean their child’s teeth with water and a soft-bristled toothbrush. After age 3, parents should supervise brushing. Use no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and make sure children do not swallow excess toothpaste.
Teach your child to move the brush in small circular motions to reach food particles that may be under the gum line. Have them hold the toothbrush at an angle and brush slowly and carefully, covering all areas between teeth and the surface of each tooth. It will take several minutes to thoroughly brush their teeth. Have them brush up on the lower teeth, down on the upper teeth and the outside, inside and chewing surfaces of all front and back teeth. Then have them brush the tongue and the roof of the mouth before rinsing.
In our busy lives, the most important brushing times are in the morning and at bedtime. However, brushing teeth four times daily helps to avoid the accumulation of food particles and plaque:
- In the morning after breakfast
- After lunch or right after school
- After dinner
- At bedtime
As soon as the bristles start to wear down or fray, or every 3 months, replace the toothbrush with a new one. Teach your child not to swallow any toothpaste, and to rinse their mouth thoroughly with water after they finish brushing. It is important they carefully floss and brush daily for optimal oral hygiene.