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Brushing and Flossing Tips for Kids

Lake Oswego, OR

At Nicholas Dose, DMD Family Dental Care, we encourage you and your children to maintain a high standard of dental hygiene to act as a preventative against cavities and infection. We are always on hand to give you information and treatment as needed, but there are steps you can take at home to help make sure that your tooth care lasts. It is important to establish home habits relating to dental hygiene early in life to maximize their lasting effectiveness and to lessen the likelihood of needing tools like dental crowns to deal with damaged teeth. Teaching your children to brush and floss is a key first step in doing so.

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Dental Care For An Infant

Before you can teach your child to brush, they have to grow up enough to understand what you are telling them. Until then, the oral care of your infant is up to you. When your infant’s teeth have not yet arrived, it is still important to clean their mouth with a clean wet cloth, gauze, or xylitol wipe after each feeding. Once their first tooth erupts, then you can begin brushing for them by using a soft-bristle and age-appropriate toothbrush with water. If your child has a moderate to high risk of tooth decay, we may suggest minimal use of fluoride toothpaste. Once two teeth grow in touching each other, we advise that you floss between them once a day. By taking these steps, your infant will have healthy teeth that do not require remedial treatment such as tooth extraction or the use of dental crowns.

How To Visualize Proper Tooth Care For Your Child

Though your child may volunteer to brush and floss their teeth at ages 6-8, their technique will probably be insufficient at reaching all the spots they need to and with the right intensity. We have found that one of the best ways to describe the correct method to a child is to get a toy with plastic teeth and show how dental hygiene works through this visual aid. By “playing dentist,” you can pretend to look at its teeth and talk about proper tooth brushing. You can simulate back-and-forth strokes at the gumline and remind the child to brush the fronts and backs of the teeth. Once you have demonstrated such techniques to the child, they can take their turn at showing what they have learned, using the toy in the same way.

Flossing Tips For Your Child

Though we have talked a lot about how to pass on proper tooth brushing principles to your child, flossing should not be forgotten. You can make sure that your child and yourself are flossing correctly with the following steps. Try to hold a small length of floss between your index finger and thumb, wrapping it around a finger if needed to get better control. Once you have entered the mouth, you will want to curve the floss in a ‘C’ shape around each tooth and move it gently up and down along the sides of the tooth. Do this for all of your teeth, switching the floss out for a new strip frequently to avoid bringing food and plaque from one tooth to another. If flossing is an unappealing option, you can talk with us about using an interdental brush to clean between most of you or your child’s teeth instead, though you will still need to floss a few areas. If some teeth are too damaged for flossing, we advise that you make an appointment with us to discuss whether dental crowns might be a good option for reducing the sensitivity.

Want to learn more about brushing and flossing tips for kids? Give us a call at (503) 647-4565. We are happy to help you learn more about your smile!

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