Pediatric Home Care Recommendations from Eric and Casey Burns DDS
We advise daily brushing begin as soon as the child’s first tooth erupts. A tiny pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste can be used after the child is old enough not to swallow it. By age 4 or 5, children should be able to brush their own teeth twice a day with supervision. However, each child is different so it is up to the parent’s discretion. We can help you determine whether the child has the skill level to brush properly on their own.
Proper brushing removes plaque from the inner, outer and chewing surfaces of the teeth. When helping children learn to brush, teach them place toothbrush at a 45 degree angle. Start brushing along the gum line with a soft bristle brush in a gentle circular motion. Brush the outer surfaces of each tooth, upper and lower. Repeat the same method on the inside surfaces and chewing surfaces of all the teeth. Finish by brushing the tongue to help freshen breath and remove bacteria. Establishing a specific routine (brushing the teeth in a certain order) to help ensure that the child does not miss any areas.
Flossing is very important at any age. It helps removes plaque between the teeth where a toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing should begin when any two teeth touch. You should floss the child’s teeth until he or she can do it alone. Use about 18 inches of floss, winding most of it around the middle fingers of both hands. Hold the floss lightly between the thumbs and forefingers. Use a gentle, back-and-forth motion to guide the floss between the teeth. Curve the floss into a C-shape and slide it into the space between the gum and tooth until you feel resistance. Gently scrape the floss against the side of the tooth. Repeat this procedure on each tooth. Don’t forget the backs of the last tooth (upper/lower right and upper/lower left – sometimes this area gets overlooked). Floss picks are an okay substitute to use for children if you/your child responds better to this method.
Here are some smart tips to help ensure your child has healthy teeth:
Shop smart. Do not routinely stock your pantry with sugary or starchy snacks. Buy “fun foods” just for special times.
Limit the number of snack times; choose nutritious snacks.
Provide a balanced diet, and save foods with sugar or starch for mealtimes.
Do not put your young child to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, or juice.
If your child chews gum or sips soda, choose those without sugar and have your child at minimum rinse mouth with water afterwards (brushing would be ideal but not always possible 🙂
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