Oral Hygiene

Pediatric Dentist, Gig Harbor, WA, Lisa A. Block, DMD, MSStarting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush and water. Remember that most small children do not have the dexterity to brush their teeth effectively. Unless it is advised by your child’s pediatric dentist, do not use fluoridated toothpaste until age 2-3. *

Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride toothpaste should only be used when the child is old enough to have the ability to spit, otherwise water or non-fluoridated toothpaste can be used. When you brush your child's teeth, move the brush in small circular motions to reach food particles that may be under the gum line. 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 you several minutes to thoroughly brush your child’s teeth. Brush up on the lower teeth, down on the upper teeth and the outside, inside and chewing surface of all front and back teeth. Brush the tongue and the roof of the mouth before you have your child rinse and spit.

Brush your child’s teeth four times daily 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, replace the toothbrush with a new one. Do not let your child swallow any toothpaste; have your child rinse thoroughly with water and spit after brushing.

Flossing

We will talk to you and your child about the importance of flossing and will recommend flossing your child’s teeth as soon as it is age appropriate. 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 child’s 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 child’s back teeth.

Floss at night to make sure your child’s teeth are squeaky clean before your child goes to bed. When you first begin flossing, your child's gums may bleed a little. If the bleeding does not go away after the first week, let a staff member know at your next appointment.

*"Copyright © The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry"