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Is there a Wrong Way or Time for Kids to Brush Their Teeth?

Whether they’re old enough to do it themselves or you’re doing it for them, it’s important that your children’s teeth get brushed the right way and at the right time for optimal oral care. 

Brushing teeth the wrong way and at the wrong time could be a contributing factor in the need for restorative care procedures, which can range from a tooth filling to something much more serious like a root canal. That said, what is the right way and right time for kids to brush their teeth? 

The first step for kids to brush their teeth the right way is to gather the age-appropriate teeth-cleaning materials.


Using the Right Materials

For Babies

Dental hygiene should begin even before teeth start coming in, as maintaining healthy gums is essential for oral health. Especially if you’re caring for a toddler, make sure you’re not brushingtoothless child smiling their teeth the wrong way! Follow these steps:

  • Wipe your infant’s gums with a soft cloth in the morning after feeding and right before bed at night. This helps prevent unhealthy bacteria growth in your child’s mouth, which can cause cavities for any incoming teeth.  
  • When teeth start coming in, there’s no need for toothpaste; just lightly brush their newly grown-in teeth twice a day, whenever convenient, with a small soft-bristled toothbrush

Don’t floss your baby’s teeth unless they touch. It’s recommended to consult your dentist before flossing.

For Children

When your child reaches the age of 2, you may begin using fluoride toothpaste. At this stage, it’s advisable to teach your child to brush their teeth on their own. Make sure they spit out rather than swallow their toothpaste, and learn the right technique so they don’t brush their teeth the wrong way.

Flossing for themselves may come later, but always make sure to floss their teeth because it’s important for preventing plaque build-up, which can affect oral and general health. Remember to ask your dentist if they recommend dental sealants to further protect your child’s teeth from cavities.

When to Brush

A lot of people brush their kids’ teeth right after breakfast, but studies now show this may be the wrong time to do so. It’s best to brush before. The reasons for this are:

  • Brushing removes bacteria that grow overnight. If left on teeth before breakfast, it can interact with sugar by turning into acid that attacks tooth enamel.
  • After a meal, saliva needs between 40 to 45 minutes to reconstitute the enamel, so if you brush right after you could degrade your teeth. 
  • For the above reasons, it’s best to wait the recommended time before brushing after the last meal as well.

When to floss?

Your child’s teeth should be flossed at least once a day either in the morning or at night before bedtime.

Brushing Technique

  • Brush at a 45-degree angle. Don’t brush hard and in a horizontal back-and-forth direction; that would be brushing teeth the wrong way (a common mistake). Do brush gently in a circular motion.
  • Brush small groups of teeth at a time, making sure to get the inside, outside, and chewing surfaces, for a total of 2 minutes.
  • Brush the tongue to remove bacteria. 

If you keep your child on this dental regimen, they will thank you as adults!

Don’t Forget Dentist Checkups!

Remember to take your child to a dental office that specializes in treating children. Children’s Dentistry of Las Vegas is your child-friendly, pediatric dentistry office offering preventative and restorative dental care for all children, including special needs. Contact us to book your visit.