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Caring for Your Teeth

Brushing

A toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head, specially designed for infants, is the best choice for your child. Brushing at least once a day, at bedtime, will remove plaque and bacteria that can lead to decay.

Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. As soon as the teeth begin to appear, start brushing twice daily using fluoridated toothpaste and a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush. Use a "smear" of toothpaste to brush the teeth of a child less than 2 years of age. For the 2-5 year old, dispense a "pea-size" amount of toothpaste and perform or assist your child’s tooth brushing. Remember that young children do not have the ability to brush their teeth effectively on their own. Children should attempt to spit out excess toothpaste after brushing.

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 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 of the front and back teeth.

The teeth should be brushed at least twice a day to avoid the accumulation of food particles and plaque. It is especially important to brush in the morning after breakfast and right before bedtime.

As soon as the bristles start to wear down or fray, replace the toothbrush with a new one. It is important to carefully floss and brush daily for optimal oral hygiene.  Keep in mind that children need assistance with brushing and flossing until at least 7 years of age.  Even after that, you should monitor their brushing closely to ensure enough time is being spent brushing and all teeth are cleaned thoughly.

Flossing

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 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.

Floss at night to make sure your child's teeth are squeaky clean before they go to bed. Pull a generous 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 the back teeth.  For young children, a pick-type flosser can make the job easier.  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.

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