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How to Brush and Floss Teeth Correctly

A kid brushing her teeth with her mother

Brushing and flossing are two of the most crucial dental habits to instill in children from a young age. Teaching your kids how to properly brush and floss their teeth will put them on a path to good oral hygiene for years to come.

Yet just like exercising the wrong way can lead to injury, improper brushing and flossing can fail to take care of your kids’ teeth. This guide has the correct techniques to build these fundamental dental habits.

The Importance of Correct Brushing and Flossing

Parents should learn how to properly brush their kids’ teeth as soon as their first tooth erupts and show them how to floss when their teeth start touching. These are the two most important preventative measures for better oral health, and here are the reasons why.

To Prevent Plaque Buildup and Tooth Decay

Bacteria accumulate on your children’s teeth, form plaque, and lead to tooth decay. Brushing and flossing can remove these bacteria and lower the chances of cavities. Using fun ways to teach teeth brushing and flossing to your kids, you can show them how to remove plaque buildup on their own.

To Prevent Gum Disease

Gum disease—known as periodontal disease—can lead to gum recession and eventual tooth loss. When your kids learn how to brush their teeth, they can rid their gums of plaque and avoid the damaging consequences of periodontal problems. Flossing is also vital for your kids’ gums because it reduces inflammation.

To Prevent Bad Breath

Bad breath is often the result of food particles left between the teeth. Kids can save the embarrassment of stinky breath through regular brushing and flossing.

To Prevent Tooth Discoloration

By using fun ways to teach teeth brushing and flossing to your children, you also help them keep their teeth from staining. Teeth yellowing can occur from eating sweets and drinking sodas, but your kids can minimize this effect by using the correct techniques to brush and floss their teeth.

To Avoid Expensive Dental Treatments

Another perk of teaching your kids how to brush their teeth properly is that you will avoid future costly dental procedures. If your kids don’t start taking care of their oral health, they may require extensive treatments down the road.

Teach Your Kids How to Brush Correctly

While of course you’ll want to brush your toddler’s teeth, by the time your kids turn six, they should learn how to brush their teeth themselves. Set aside time in your daily family rhythms so children can brush their teeth for two minutes in the morning and two minutes again at night.

Steps to Brushing

  1. Apply a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste to the toothbrush
  2. Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle toward the gums
  3. Gently brush the teeth using circular motions
  4. Brush the front, back, and chewing surfaces of all teeth
  5. Brush the tongue and roof of the mouth too
  6. Spit the remaining toothpaste

Teach Your Kids How to Floss Correctly

Flossing is necessary for kids once their teeth begin to touch. The floss cleans the interdental regions where toothbrushes bristles can’t reach. Ideally, kids should floss at least once a day.

Steps to Flossing

  1. Cut about 18 inches of floss
  2. Wrap each end around the middle fingers of both hands
  3. Pinch the floss between the index finger and thumb
  4. Gently insert the floss between two teeth
  5. Curve it in a U-shape around each tooth and gently slide it several times to remove debris
  6. Gently take it out and repeat with clean parts of the floss on other teeth

Fun Ways to Teach Teeth Brushing

Earlier we mentioned the importance of making brushing fun. Younger kids especially are more likely to build habits around activities they enjoy. If you want to get your kids interested in how to brush their teeth and make the process more entertaining, try the following tricks:

  • Let your children pick their own toothbrushes with their favorite cartoon characters.
  • Try an electric toothbrush in their favorite color.
  • Play a song or a two-minute video while they brush to make sure they spend the recommended amount of time.
  • Give your kids a dry toothbrush and have them pretend to clean their toy’s teeth to stimulate their imagination and keep them interested.
  • Turn brushing and flossing into a family event and invite your kids to the bathroom to take care of their teeth with you.
  • Try positive reinforcement and give your kids small rewards like stickers when they brush and floss their teeth.

Never Too Late to Start

A toddler smiling

Many parents come to us admitting that they have not always been the best at reminding their kids to brush and floss. The good news is that it’s never too late to start.

Children’s Dentistry in Lolo is happy to share fun ways to teach kids how to brush their teeth. Our office is designed with kids in mind, and we have games, toys, and prizes to encourage kids in their dental health. Whether your family is due for a regular checkup or you have a larger concern, call us at 406-284-8669. We’re accepting new patients and are happy to answer your questions. We can’t wait to welcome you into our family!