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How to Take Care of Your Child’s Teeth

Written by Dr. Tom Supakorndej, DDS

The Number One Rule: The Parent Must Brush the Child’s Teeth

It is important for parents to teach their children how to brush their teeth, but it is even more important for the parent to brush their children’s teeth for them. Why? Because young children do not have the hand control to brush their own teeth effectively.

First, have the child brush his/her own teeth. Then, follow-up by brushing his/her teeth for them again. This is the only way to ensure that your child’s teeth are clean every day. We recommend brushing your child’s teeth for him until the age of eight.

Brushing Your Baby’s teeth

Your baby’s first teeth will come out at approximately 6 months, earlier in some babies. After this time, it’s very important to brush them after each feeding. Wash your hands before trying to brush your baby’s teeth. Make sure you brush both the front and back of each tooth.

You do NOT need toothpaste. Regular water is enough.

There are various devices that can be used to brush:

  1. A damp piece of gauze can be wrapped around your finger and used to wipe the teeth clean
  2. A damp Q-tip
  3. A finger brush

The Proper Brushing Technique

(For Adults and Older Kids)

Step 1
Brush at a 45 degree angle to your teeth. Direct the bristles to where your gums and teeth meet. Use a gentle, circular, massaging motion, up and down. Don’t scrub. Gums that recede visibly are often a result of years of brushing too hard.
On your back teeth, either brush Up and Down, or in Circles. This makes sure you clean your teeth at the gum lines. Avoid brushing Side-to-Side, because this misses the gum line. Gum line cavities tend to form by brushing purely side-to-side.

Step 2
Clean every surface of every tooth. The chewing surface, the cheek side, and the tongue side.

Step 3
Don’t rush your brush. A thorough brushing should take at least two to three minutes.
On the inside surface of teeth, switch between brushing side-to-side and brushing upwards. Try to get the toothbrush bristles in between teeth, so that food stuck between the teeth is removed.

Step 4
Change your usual brushing pattern. Most people brush their teeth the same way all the time. That means they miss the same spots all the time. Try reversing your usual pattern.
brushing 3
Step 5
Use a soft brush with rounded bristles. The right toothbrush cleans better. Choose a size and shape that allow you to reach all the way to your back teeth. There are many different types of brushes, so ask your dentist to suggest the best one for you. CDA recommends you replace your toothbrush every three months.