Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small strip of fluoride toothpaste, unless the child is under the age of three. If a child is younger than age three, parents should clean their child’s teeth with water and a soft-bristled toothbrush. After age three, parents should supervise brushing. Use no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and make sure children do not swallow excess toothpaste.
When you brush the 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 the teeth. Brush up on the lower teeth, down on the upper teeth and the outside, inside and chewing surface of all of the front and back teeth. Brush the tongue and the roof of the mouth before rinsing.
Brush the 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 swallow any toothpaste; rinse the mouth thoroughly with water after finishing brushing. It is important to carefully floss and brush daily for optimal oral hygiene.
For areas between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach, 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 the 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 the back teeth.
Floss at night to make sure the teeth are squeaky clean before going to bed. When you first begin flossing, the gums may bleed a little. If the bleeding does not go away after the first few times, let a staff member know at your next appointment.