Teaching your child how to clean their teeth properly can help to set good oral hygiene habits for a lifetime. Our Langley children's dentists recommend using a timer to ensure that your child brushes long enough, and that you take some time to teach your child proper brushing and flossing technique.
Teaching Your Child to Clean Their Teeth
Teaching your child to brush and floss effectively will take some time and patience. That said, taking the time to teach your child how to clean their teeth effectively is a gift that can help to keep your child's mouth healthy throughout their lifetime.
While your child is still learning how to clean their teeth thoroughly, parents should be sure to spend some time brushing their child's teeth, once each learning session is over.
Proper Brushing Technique & Tips
Start with The Right Toothbrush
If your child is old enough, let them help choose their toothbrush. Colours and characters that your child loves will help to make oral hygiene a happy event each day.
Look for a toothbrush that fits comfortably in your child's hand, with soft rounded bristles and a small brush head. A toothbrush that is too large will not allow your child to reach all of their teeth effectively.
Children can be hard on toothbrushes. Our Langley children's dentists recommend buying a new toothbrush for your child every 3 or 4 months. If your child's toothbrush has bent or worn down bristles replace the brush as soon as possible. Damaged bristles may harm your child's gums.
Age 3 and Under:
- Under the age of 3 parents should brush their children's teeth. Unless your child's dentist has advised you otherwise, toothpaste is not required at this age.
Ages 3 to 6 years:
- In this age category, parents should still assist children in brushing their teeth, and begin teaching their children on how to brush properly using the guidelines below. Our Langley children's dentists recommend using a pea size portion of child specific fluoridated toothpaste when brushing.
Ages 6 and up:
- At about 6 years of age children may have adequate manual dexterity to begin brushing their own teeth, with parental guidance. Using a fluoridated toothpaste in a flavour your child enjoys will help to make the process more pleasurable.
Have your child begin by holding the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to their teeth. Bristles should point to where the teeth and gums meet.
Teach your child to be gentle, there is no need to scrub. Use gentle circles to brush around each tooth. Having your child imagine their mouth in 4 quarters can be helpful.
Have your child work on one quarter of their mouth at a time, spending 30 seconds brushing the fronts, backs and tops of all the teeth in that quarter of their mouth before moving on to the next section.
Encourage your child to continue brushing for a full two minutes, (30 seconds for each quarter of their mouth). You may find that playing a fun song, or using a timer is helpful.
How to Floss
If your child is young you may want to do the flossing for them.
How to floss your child's teeth:
- Tear off a piece of floss about as long as your child's arm. Wrap the floss around the middle fingers on each of your hands, leaving about 2 inches between the hands. Then use your index fingers to guide the floss between your child's teeth.
- Gently slide the floss between the teeth and wrap it into a "C" shape, and clean where the tooth and gums meet.
- Use the floss like a windshield wiper and wipe the tooth from bottom to top 2 or 3 times, until it's sparkling clean. Floss both sides of each tooth, and be sure not to forget the backs of the last molars.
- As you move from tooth to tooth, move to a new part of the floss.
Discard dental floss in the garbage, never flush dental floss down the toilet.
Encouraging your child to floss their own teeth:
Fairly advanced manual dexterity is required to use dental floss as described above. To make flossing without the help of an adult easier for your child, there are a number of flossing tools available specifically for children. Child friendly flossers are available in animal shapes, different colours and in a variety of child friendly flavours.