Pediatric dentists want your children to have all the necessary hygiene skills to maintain good oral health throughout their lives.
Choosing a Toothbrush and Toothpaste
The first step is to choose a good toothbrush. Your child should be using a soft brush with a small head. A soft brush is sturdy enough to remove plaque, yet gentle enough not to damage your teeth or gums.
Manual vs. Electric Toothbrushes
Did you know that there are both electric and manual toothbrushes for children? There have been multiple studies comparing the effectiveness of manual brushes as opposed to electric brushes.
Although not all electric brushes are the same, these studies conclude that in general, electric brushes are more efficient in controlling plaque than manual brushes. Theoretically, you can perform good brushing with a regular hand brush, but the movements of an electric brush make the task easier and more effective.
Also, some electric brushes (Sonicare) produce sonic vibrations that are difficult to mimic with a hand brush! Other electric brushes, like Oral-B and Rotadent, have small heads that help you access hard-to-reach areas of your mouth. This aspect is more important when you are talking about someone with orthodontic braces or a history of gum disease.
Choosing a Toothpaste
Selecting a good toothpaste is also essential to oral care. In general, any toothpaste that contains fluoride will do the job, unless you have special needs that are determined by your dentist. Two of the best brands of toothpastes are Colgate Total and Crest Multicare.
The first rule of brushing is to start from a specific location and work your way to the opposite side, continuing all the way through the whole mouth so that you end where you started. This way you won’t miss any areas. Usually a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is enough.
Adequate brushing should take at least 2 minutes and preferably around 4 minutes. A good way to make sure your children brush their teeth long enough is by making it fun! Have a two minute brushing song will make sure they get the cleaning they need.
How to Brush Your Teeth
There are a variety of techniques for brushing your teeth. The following describes one of the most popular methods:
- Hold the brush at a 45 degree angle toward the teeth and gums.
- Gently press against the gums so the tips of the bristles go in-between the gums and teeth.
- Apply a few lateral strokes and roll down the brush to sweep the plaque away from the teeth and gums.
- Repeat this motion 6 to 10 times and move on to the next area of 2 to 3 teeth. If your mouth is full of foam, spit it out and continue brushing. Your brushing is completed when you have brushed all the surfaces of your teeth, not when your mouth is full!
- On chewing surfaces, short strokes work best to get the plaque out of the grooves and pits.
- When brushing the back side of your front teeth, hold your brush vertically to be able to reach the teeth better.
Ideally, you would want to brush your teeth after each meal. But if you can’t, brush at least twice a day: after breakfast and before going to bed.
How to Floss Your Teeth
Getting your kids to floss regularly can be a difficult challenge. By starting the habit early, you can set your children up for a lifetime of healthy teeth. Parents should lead by example, and stay on top of their children’s oral health care routine.
The surfaces that are between teeth are not accessible to brush, therefore the best way to clean them is by flossing.
Flossing should accompany brushing and it should ideally be performed after each meal, though one time a day (before going to bed) is the minimum necessary.
Steps to Flossing
- To start, cut a piece of dental floss (approximately 2 feet).
- Wrap both sides of the floss around your middle fingers.
- Using your index and thumb, glide the floss in between all your teeth one by one.
- When flossing, make sure you are not cutting your gums. The goal is to clean the surface of your teeth, not the gums.
- In the space in-between teeth, press the floss against each side of the tooth (hug the tooth) and gently move it back and forth and up and down. Then move to the opposite surface of the adjacent tooth.
Make it fun!
If flossing hasn’t quite caught on in your household, set goals for your children or get accessories with their favourite cartoon characters. Making it fun and not a chore is just one way to get kids involved.
Contact our Toronto dental team to book your child's next dentist appointment.
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