Kids cannot brush their own teeth effectively until they are 6 or 7, therefore the task is mostly up to the parent. Get into the routine of cleaning your child’s teeth twice a day: after breakfast and before bedtime. If your baby does not have teeth yet, gently cleanse the gums and tongue with a wet washcloth wrapped around your finger. Once the teeth erupt, switch to an infant toothbrush and use a fluoride-free toothpaste until age 2. Hold the fluoride until your child learns to stop swallowing the toothpaste. In the meantime, make sure your child gets enough fluoride from fluoridated water.
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and a small strip of fluoridated toothpaste. Holding the brush at a 45-degree angle, move the brush in a small circular motion across the teeth. Carefully brush the chewing surfaces of your teeth, making sure to clean the back teeth and between teeth. Use the same circular motion to clean the inside of the upper and lower teeth. Brush the inside of the top and bottom front teeth by angling the head of the toothbrush up-and-down and brushing in a circular motion. Finish by brushing your tongue and the roof of your mouth before rinsing.
Floss at least once a day. Pull a small length of floss from the dispenser and wrap the ends tightly around your middle fingers. Gently guide the floss between all teeth to the gum line, including the back teeth to remove 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.
The teeth, bones, and soft tissue of the mouth require a healthy, well-balanced diet. A variety of foods from the five food groups help minimize and avoid cavities and other dental problems. Consumptions of foods that contain sugars and starches should be decreased. These foods can include candies, cookies, chips, and crackers. Healthier foods, such as vegetables, low-fat yogurt, and cheeses, help promote stronger teeth.
You should visit your general dentist twice a year (once every six months). In order to maintain a healthy smile, it is vital to have professional cleanings and regular checkups. Your dentist will examine your teeth and provide an evaluation of existing dental problems and proposed treatment. If you have a dental emergency, you should call your dentist immediately.
Need ideas for getting your child to cooperate? Be creative. You could let her pick out a fun toothbrush, sing a song to distract her when you brush, use a yummy toothpaste, and give her some control by letting her play with the brush. Then ask to have a mom’s or dad’s turn. If she feels like it is a game, she will be more willing to cooperate. Spend at least a minute brushing all the surfaces of the teeth as well as the tongue. Make flossing part of your child’s regular routine. It is best to floss and brush right after dinner before she gets too tired and unwilling to cooperate. You are never too young to floss: start flossing as soon as her teeth start touching each other.