Brushing and Flossing

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Brushing

It is best to begin brushing your child's teeth once they begin to erupt. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small strip of fluoride toothpaste, unless the child is under the age of 2. If a child is younger than age 2, parents should clean their child's teeth with water and a soft-bristled toothbrush. We recommend assisting children with brushing longer than you expect: even up to 2nd or 3rd grade. Use no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, and make sure children do not swallow excess toothpaste. At ages 2 and 3, when your child is not good at spitting yet, use a half of a pea size amount, (just a small smear) of fluoride toothpaste to compensate the fact that they may swallow it. Getting SOME fluoride on the teeth is important starting at age 2 for the prevention of cavities.

When you brush your teeth, move the brush in small circular motions to reach food particles that may be under your gum line. Hold the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle and brush slowly and carefully, covering all areas between teeth, on the surface of each tooth and gum line. It will take you two minutes to thoroughly brush your teeth. Remember to brush the "three sides" of each tooth: 1) the cheek side 2) the tongue or palate side 3) the biting side. Most people focus only on the biting surface and forget the other sides along the gum line, which are just as important! Brush your tongue to finish for better breath.

Brush your teeth right before bed, in the morning and after every meal for best results if your goal is zero cavities.

The MINIMUM amount of brushing is two times a day. And make one of those times immediately before going to bed. Before bedtime brushing should be the most thorough brushing, otherwise sugars can cause cavities all night long. Skipping night brushing is one of the fastest ways to make cavities.

As soon as the bristles start to wear down or fray, replace your toothbrush with a new one.

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 waxed nylon that is used to reach below the gum line and clean between teeth. It is very important to floss between your teeth every day if your goal is no cavities.

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, and use an up and down motion to pull 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 your back teeth.

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. In fact, if it's been a while, it will even hurt a little. Get back in the habit for about a week, and it won't hurt or bleed because you will have healthy gums again. Congratulations!