Brushing and Flossing
We brush our teeth to maintain excellent oral health for a lifetime of fabulous smiles! We all have bacteria in our mouths. When we eat, plaque forms and sticks to our teeth. This gives the bacteria a place to hang out. As long as the plaque is there, so is the bacteria. When the plaque (and subsequently, the bacteria) is thoroughly and regularly brushed away, our risk of getting cavities greatly decreases. Prevention is the key! It’s much easier to prevent a cavity from forming than it ever will be to treat it!
We recommend that teeth be brushed for two minutes, two times a day, morning and night! Nighttime brushing is the most important and beneficial of all! Yes! The benefits of fluoride are substantial. We (and the AAPD and ADA, too!) recommend that all children use a fluoride toothpaste that has been approved by the ADA (this will insure that it has the perfect amount of fluoride!). Brushing your child’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste is super important to maintaining good oral health. Getting an early start is important too. You should begin brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts! Now, fluoride toothpaste contains 1000 times the amount of fluoride found in fluoridated water, so it is not intended to be swallowed! That means you have to be very careful with the little ones regarding how much toothpaste is used!
How much toothpaste should my child use?
What is the most effective way to brush?
Since the goal of brushing your teeth is to remove plaque, it’ll help to keep in mind the most common areas for plaque to hide! Plaque usually doesn’t stick to the silky smooth surfaces of your teeth, but rather, the uneven, bumpy, or irregular surfaces. The most common places for plaque accumulation is in the grooves of the back teeth (molars), around newly erupting teeth, and right along the gumline – where the gums and teeth touch. So, when you’re brushing, keep in mind to pay special attention to these areas. Using soft, gentle circles with a soft-bristled toothbrush is recommended!
Also, don’t forget to brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth! Bacteria hides there too!
Brushing twice a day for two minutes is what we recommend. Two minutes is longer than you think, so set a timer, play a song, or brush during the length of a commercial break, and that should be about right! That’ll make it a little more fun also!
We begin teaching and showing your child how to brush their teeth starting at age 5, however, we recommend that an adult help to brush your child’s teeth until they are 6 years old!
Another great way to maintain a healthy smile is flossing. If your child has any teeth that are touching one another (no space between), you should floss that area. Just like with adults, brushing alone can only do so much, as a toothbrush doesn’t do a great job cleaning between touching teeth! Food and plaque get lodged between the teeth, and if it’s not removed, they can lead to cavities. While fluoride exposure is most beneficial for preventing cavities between the teeth, flossing your child’s teeth everyday may help to prevent cavities from forming. Probably one of the most beneficial side effects of flossing at a young age is the formation of a great lifelong habit. The benefits of flossing extend far beyond cleaning between teeth. For adults, flossing not only aids in excellent periodontal health (preventing gum disease), but studies show it can be significant in your overall health as well! Wow!
Sometimes it can be a bit tricky for an adult to floss such a tiny mouth, so if you would like us to show you how we do it, feel free to ask us!
We begin to show your child how to properly floss starting at age 7, but children typically need help flossing until age 8 or 9, due to lack of great dexterity!