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Learning to Brush: Good Oral Hygiene Starts at Home

by | Apr 17, 2018

Childhood dental care is extremely important. By keeping your child’s gums and teeth clean, you are helping to prevent early childhood cavities and teaching your child good oral hygiene habits that he or she will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

Each stage of a child’s development requires different techniques for oral care. The following tips will assure that your child is on the right track to good oral hygiene.


Infant Gum Care

While babies do not have any teeth, their gums still need to be cleaned on a daily basis in order to prevent oral health problems from excess milk being left in the mouth. New parents should clean their baby’s gums with a soft damp cloth or damp piece of gauze in order to remove any milk residue and bacteria. Dentists recommend cleaning your baby’s gums just before bed.


Tooth and Gum Care from One to Two Years of Age

Between the ages of 12 months and two years, your baby will start getting his or her primary teeth. At this stage, you should still wipe your child’s gums with a damp cloth in order to remove food particles and bacteria on the gums, and you should gently brush your child’s first teeth with a children’s soft-bristled toothbrush. You can use plain water to brush your child’s teeth or a pea-sized amount of children’s toothpaste. At this stage, the toothpaste should not contain fluoride, and it does not need to be rinsed from your child’s mouth. Though, you can wipe away excess paste with a soft cloth once you finish brushing your toddler’s teeth.


Dental Hygiene for Toddlers and Small Children

Between the ages of three and six, toddlers and small children should be shown how to brush their teeth using a mirror, and they should be allowed to start brushing their own teeth with close supervision. Once your child has two teeth next to each other, you will want to floss between those teeth. There are children’s dental flosses available, and your dentist can recommend age-appropriate oral hygiene products.

To help your child enjoy the process of brushing his or her teeth, you can purchase brightly colored children’s toothbrushes that play music and fun-flavored toothpastes, like bubblegum. Purchasing children’s picture books that explain oral hygiene in fun, friendly ways can help your child gain a better understanding of why brushing is important. You can also play dentist with your child’s stuffed animals and have them brush the toy’s teeth.


Proper Oral Care Between the Ages of Six and Eight

Around six years of age, your child should have the knowledge and motor skills to brush his or her teeth by themselves. However, you will still want to monitor your child’s toothbrushing and brush their teeth again in order to ensure all the food particles and plaque have been removed.

To help show your child where the plaque remains after they brush their teeth, you can purchase disclosing tablets, which are colored chewable tablets that should be chewed for about 30 seconds. The color on the tablets will stick to any residual plaque. Then, have your child brush all the color off their teeth. This will help your child learn how to brush more thoroughly. You will also want to practice having your child floss his or her teeth nightly until they become proficient enough to perform the task on their own.


Toothbrushing and Flossing Between the Ages of Eight and Ten

Between the ages of eight and ten, your child should be proficient in their oral hygiene routine. To reinforce proper oral hygiene, you can make brushing and flossing a family event. In the morning and before everyone goes to bed, schedule time for everyone to brush their teeth together. This will allow you to supervise your child’s brushing and flossing while having fun with the family. You can also hold contests to see who can brush their teeth the best. After everyone finishes, you can have them chew a disclosing tablet. The person with the least color on their teeth can win a fun prize.


Oral Health for Preteens and Teens

As your child gets older, it is important to make sure their teeth are developing correctly via regular dental appointments. Between the ages of 10 and 18 is when crooked teeth and bite problems tend to become noticeable because your child has all of their adult teeth. Regular dental care can help our dentist diagnose crooked teeth and bite problems and create a treatment plan to straighten adult teeth and correct bad bites.


Healthy teeth start at home by learning the proper care early on. Good oral hygiene is considered the primary means of prevention of dental cavities, gingivitis, periodontitis, and other dental disorders. By teaching your child to practice a daily dental hygiene routine and visiting the dentist regularly, they will be well on their way to achieving a strong, healthy, and beautifully white smile. Oral hygiene requires both personal and professional care and it begins in infancy. Learn more about general pediatric care in Dr. Powers’ latest Tooth Talk

Triangle Dentistry, located in Raleigh, NC, provides a state-of-the-art facility that offers exceptional general dental and specialty services guided by empathy of a patient’s needs and desires. Services range from dental crowns to veneers and whitening procedures. For further information, questions, or to schedule an appointment, contact the office at (919) 747-3608.