Children's hands and mouths are different than adults. They need to use toothbrushes designed for children. Both adults and children should use brushes with soft, rounded bristles for gentle cleaning. Change to a new brush about every three months.
How to Care for an Infant's Teeth:
Wipe infant's teeth gently with a moist, soft cloth, gauze square, or a finger brush. As babies grow, use a child's toothbrush with a small, pea-sized dab of toothpaste.
By age two or three begin to teach your child to brush. They will not be totally effective at that age so you will still need to brush for them as well. By allowing them to brush themselves daily, you will help them create the daily habits and patterns of brushing and eventually flossing.
How to Brush:
Our dentists and hygienists advise children to use a gentle, short, back and forth motion to remove plaque. This is an effective technique for their level of dexterity. When children are older, they can switch to the method below.
Hold the brush at a 45 degree angle towards teeth and gums. Move brush back and forth with short strokes, about a half tooth wide. Brush the inside and outside surfaces of each tooth (top and bottom). Hold the brush flat on top of the teeth and brush the chewing surfaces. Gently brush the tongue to remove debris. Floss between teeth daily.
When To Begin Brushing
Once your child's teeth begin erupting, you should begin cleaning them by wiping them with a moist washcloth, gauze, or finger brush. As your child gets more teeth, you can begin to use a soft child's toothbrush. You should use just a pea-sized amount of toothpaste (such as Baby OraGel) until your child is able to spit it out (too much fluoride can stain their teeth).
For most toddlers, getting them to brush their teeth can be quite a challenge. Some suggestions for making tooth brushing less of a battle can include:
- Let your child brush your teeth at the same time.
- Let your child pick out a few toothbrushes with his favorite characters, giving him a choice of which one he wants to use each time (this will give him some feeling of control over the situation).
- Let your child brush his own teeth first (you will likely have to "help out").
- Get your child some children's books about tooth brushing.
- Have everyone brush their teeth at the same time.
To help your child understand the importance of brushing, it can sometimes be fun and helpful to let them eat or drink something that will "stain" their teeth temporarily (called disclosing solution) and then brush them clean. It can also be a good idea to create a "tooth brushing routine," and stick to the same routine each day.