The most important thing you can do to maintain good dental health is proper brushing and flossing at home. Ideally you should brush your teeth 3-4 times a day for at least 2 minutes. The most important time to brush is before you go to bed at night because it cleans off all the food and liquids that you've had during the day. While sleeping your saliva production usually decreases allowing the food or liquids on your teeth to do the most damage.
Proper brushing of your teeth should take at least 2 minutes; this ensures that you've taken the time to clean your entire mouth. You should brush all surfaces of your teeth (front, back and top), your gums and your tongue with a soft bristled toothbrush. After brushing it is important to floss because this will reach areas that your toothbrush can't.
Many people ask me about electric toothbrushes. Electric toothbrushes work really well if used properly, you still need to move the bristles around all surfaces of the teeth, gums and tongue. However, I find that many children think that because it's electric they don't have to move the toothbrush around, resulting in poor brushing. If you get your child an electric toothbrush monitor them when they first use it to make sure they are brushing correctly just as they would with a regular toothbrush.
When Should I Start Brushing My Child's Teeth?
Starting after birth you should clean your infant's gums with a damp cloth or gauze. This helps keep bacteria out of the mouth and allows your child to get used to you cleaning their mouth. When your child has all eight front teeth in (4 on top and 4 on the bottom) you should begin using a soft bristled toothbrush. Once the back teeth begin to erupt, you can begin using fluoridated toothpaste. Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, this is all your child will need and they will only swallow any extra which is not necessary. At home care is important and should begin early, but you also need to begin dental visits early. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child visit the dentist for the first time around their first birthday.
When Should I Start Flossing My Child's Teeth?
When all of the back teeth are present and if there is no space between them, you should floss for your child providing they are cooperative. At dental visits to our office we will show you proper techniques for taking care of your child's teeth.