Oral Hygiene (Brushing for Success) at Salthouse Smiles

Pediatric Dentist in St. Louis, MO

Oral Hygiene Routine for Little Ones

Pediatric Dentist in St. Louis, MO

If your little one begun to get teeth, or has had a few teeth for a while it is time to start good oral hygiene habits. Once the first tooth arrives you do want to start using a fluoride toothpaste. It can be any brand of toothpaste or any flavor, just as long as fluoride is present. For infants with teeth almost through toddler’s we only use a “rice-grain-size” or “smear” of toothpaste. This amount of toothpaste is completely safe for the child to eat and swallow two times per day. This fluoride will help protect the teeth that are in the mouth, as well as the teeth that are growing. The fluoride makes its way to the teeth and incorporates itself into the growing adult teeth! This makes the teeth much more resistant to cavities when they finally erupt!

For children we do also want to begin flossing as soon as the teeth start to touch. You can begin flossing before the teeth touch in order to practice and to get the child used to having you floss. 

Children will need help brushing until nearly the age of 8-years-old and may need help flossing until nearly age 12! That is what our research has found, and it mostly has to do with the lack of manual dexterity in children. This does mean some extra work for parents, but it will instill the importance of oral hygiene and really set your children for success!

The perfect oral hygiene routine for children and adults varies slightly. This does not supersede directions from your dentist for your specific needs. There are times when this should vary based on an individual’s oral health status, but if our goal in children is to reduce cavities, and in adults to reduce cavities as well as gum disease at the same time, these are the methods we want to follow.

Little kid brushing his teeth with electric toothbrush in the bathroom

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Children Oral Hygiene Routine

Floss First!!! 

  • Flossing first does a few things. The fist and most important is that if it is at the start of the routine it is less likely to be skipped. It also helps loosen plaque and remove it and food from the in between the teeth. This gives the toothbrush a better chance clear everything out when we start brushing
  • Regular floss can be used, or the floss picks. For children the floss picks are fantastic because they are quick and easy, and less likely to have a little one nibble on your finger
  • I encourage flossing lying down with the kiddos, just like you were at the dentist
    • I have the parent sit cross legged and have the child lean their head back in their parents lap
    • This allows the parent to floss much easier and be able to see better
    • To get the bottom teeth the child can simply open
    •  To get the top teeth have the child “look at my tummy,” or “look at the wall behind us.” 
      • The child will either tilt their head back and chin up, or 
      • Roll over and look in your direction.
        • If this happens simply reposition and have them tilt their chin up
    • I find it extremely difficult to floss a standing patient, so if I find it difficult, a non-dental professional finds it even more so
      • We position our patients to make our job possible!
 Brush with an Adult Manual Toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste
  • Remember that children before they have all of their primary teeth only need a “smear” to “rice-grain-size” amount of toothpaste
  • Once a child has all of their primary teeth and is around age 3, they begin to use a “pea-sized” amount of toothpaste
    • This is the same for adults.
    • Following the size guideline will help in preventing excess foam while we are brushing and make it less messy with the child 
  • If you have an electric toothbrush with a larger head it works just as the adult manual toothbrush
    • At times the pediatric toothbrush and electric toothbrushes have a very small heads, and do not cover a lot of ground, and it makes parents task more difficult and take longer
    • I would rather give you a broom to clean than a high powered paintbrush
    • The adult head will cover canine to second baby molar and will not go too far back, it is nearly the perfect size to clean all of the back teeth with the same stroke
  • Similarly how we have the child lay down to floss, you can also brush in this fashion!
    • If we do this, I recommend having a wash clothe to get extra toothpaste and clean the child’s face should the brushing be messy
    • I normally recommend this for younger children or if we have had difficulty brushing standing up at home
      • If we have difficulty with cooperation of brushing at home I suggest that toothbrushing be a two adult task.
      • This allows one person to brush the child’s teeth while the other may ensure the child is safe and still while their partner brushes
  • I do not include a mouthwash in the children’s bed time routine
      • If the child would like to use one at night because mom and dad use one that is fine
      • If children want to get a benefit from a mouth rinse I typically advise they use one outside of brushing time
        • This normally means after lunch if the child is home during the day
        • After school / daycare if the child is not home during the day
      • The reason for this is that for children we typically recommend a fluoride or anti-cavity rinse, but the tooth paste already has stronger fluoride than the rinse, and the toothpaste lasts longer than the rinse
      • It is better for the children to get another fluoride application in between the brushes than right before the brushes

  • You should spit your tooth paste out, but do not rinse
  • The toothpaste is the medicine that works to heal the teeth and stop cavities
  • If we rinse with mouth rinse or water after we are simply replacing the toothpaste
  • Though as adults we get no benefit from swallowing toothpaste, children do
    • The fluoride makes its way to the teeth and incorporates itself into the growing adult teeth! This makes the teeth much more resistant to cavities when they finally erupt!

Adult Oral Hygiene Routine

  • The parent’s oral hygiene is just as important as the child’s! The below is to keep your teeth and gums in tip top shape!

    • Floss First!!
    • Anti-gingivitis rinse Second!!
      • To tell if a rinse is anticavity or anti-gingivitis read the active ingredients.
        • Anti-cavity Rinse: Active Ingredient Fluoride
        • Anti-gingivitis Rinse: Active Ingredients: List of Antibiotics
    • Brush with Fluoride Tooth Paste Third!!!!!
    • Spit, but DO NOT RINSE!!!!
    • Adults can use an anticavity (fluoride) rinse or anti-gingivitis rinse after meals or after the work day for an additional benefit

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