Getting off to an early start when it comes to brushing and flossing is one of the best ways to ensure that your kids establish habits that will keep their teeth healthy for life.
As soon as your child's primary teeth start coming in, you can start brushing them two times a day- even if there are only a couple of teeth to start with!
At first, there's not much to brushing. Start with a small piece of gauze or cloth. Wrap it around your finger with a tiny smear of toothpaste on it, and carefully rub around the teeth. If your kids are under 3, it’s better to use water rather than toothpaste.
You can begin flossing your child’s teeth when there are two teeth next to each other to floss between! Use soft, flexible floss, and gently move it up and down the sides of each tooth.
Choose the Right Toothbrush
Once your child is ready to use a brush, pick one with rounded, soft bristles of different lengths, and a small, angled head.
Your local pharmacy most likely carries toothbrushes designed for different age groups, so read the package carefully.
Teaching Your Child to Brush & Floss
When your child is ready take on the responsibility of brushing and flossing, be sure to supervise at first, until he or she is able to do a good job independently.
To teach your child to brush and floss, demonstrate the following techniques:
- For children between 3 and 6, use only a pea-sized dab of toothpaste, and add a little more as they get older.
- Show your child how to hold the toothbrush against the gums at an angle
- Using short, circular strokes, have your child move the brush gently back and forth across his or her teeth, using short, circular strokes
- Make sure your child works methodically around all their teeth, front and back, top and bottom
- Demonstrate how to brush the tongue, to remove germs for fresh breath
- Cut a 18-inch piece of soft, flexible floss
- Have your child wrap the majority of the floss around each middle finger, leaving about an inch of floss between
- Using your thumb and index finger to keep the floss taut, slide it carefully between the teeth; don't not to push too hard against the gums
- Run the floss carefully up and down the sides of each tooth, including under the gum line
- Unravel new sections of floss as you move from tooth to tooth