Brushing and Flossing

Brushing

For most children over 3 years old, you can use a toothbrush with soft bristles and pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. A guideline for 1-3 year old children, is to only apply a thin smear or ‘grain-of-rice’ sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. If your child hasn’t yet mastered spitting out the toothpaste, you may consider using a toddler or training toothpaste that is non-fluoridated and safe to swallow. Parents should regularly supervise brushing to make sure that children to not apply and swallow too much toothpaste. Below is a photo provided by the American Dental Association with a smear of toothpaste pictured on the left and a pea-size on the right.
When you brush your teeth, move the brush in small circular motions. Hold the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle and brush slowly and carefully, making sure the toothbrush bristles touch all 3 accessible sides of every tooth (tongue-surface, lip-surface, and biting surface). To do the process well, it can take some time. Thirty seconds per mouth quadrant for two minutes total is a rough guideline. Before putting the toothbrush down, brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth. While it is important to brush a couple times a day, the most important time to brush is right before bed. To maximize the topical benefits of fluoride toothpaste, it is preferred to not rinse after spitting out the toothpaste. Additionally, make sure that you don’t have anything else to eat or drink after brushing. Late night snacks or drinks can leave sugars on your teeth that fuel cavity-forming bacteria until morning.

Flossing

To clean food and bacteria from the areas between the teeth that your toothbrush can’t reach, we recommend flossing. Dental floss is a thin thread that is used slide between teeth, where they touch. It is very important to gently floss your teeth every day. Pull about 1 foot of floss from the dispenser. Wrap the ends of the floss snugly around your pointer fingers. Gently guide the floss down and up where the teeth touch, “hugging” each tooth to pull out any food particles or plaque. Floss should not be used side-to-side like a saw, it is meant to move vertically. Floss at night to make sure your teeth are squeaky clean before you go to bed. When you first begin flossing, your gums may bleed a little. If the bleeding does not go away after the first few times, let a your dentist know.

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