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Brushing & Flossing Frequency

By Lone Tree Pediatric Dentistry - October 7, 2019

When I explain to parents that they should be brushing twice daily and flossing once daily, they look at me like I have multiple heads!  I get it…brushing and flossing my teeth alone can be a chore, let alone three other little mouths.  But I assure you that the payoff of dental health is worth the effort.  Plus, you get your child used to what the norm should be and engrain in them what will hopefully become routine for the rest of their life.   Don’t think because I am a pediatric dentist that brushing my kiddos teeth is an easy task.  It is not!  I hear every excuse possible!  My typical mornings consist of plopping bowls of breakfast foods down for my kids, tell them to hurry and eat up, then when they are done picking or flicking their food all over the table and floor, I tell them “time to brush your teeth.”  Their response – NO!  Then the excuses start rolling in.  “I’m not done with breakfast”; “It’s so and so’s turn to brush their teeth”; “I will go last”; “I’m busy playing”; “I’m not dressed”; “I brushed my teeth yesterday”.  With the little patience I can muster, lo and behold our children eventually give in with a “Fine, I’ll go”.  With those three little words, I hustle that child to the bathroom where I have the toothbrushes and toothpaste ready to go.  I brush each child’s teeth for 1-2 minutes and make sure I brush both the top and bottom teeth equally with small circular motions.  Next!  This process normally takes me 15 minutes but this is also because I put on sunscreen and brush their hair.  Brushing the twins hair will change once their hair actually grows in past their necks! 

Nighttime brushing, I approach the same way except I include flossing.  I recommend starting to floss when neighboring teeth are touching.  Because you are adding another item on the to-do list, their delay tactics will potentially grow even more bazar as they go from energizer bunnies to gremlins.  They are tired, they don’t want to open their mouths, they don’t want to stand still (morning attribute as well), and they are spitting water/toothpaste at the mirror.  I could go on!  But it is crucial that you brush and floss your child’s teeth after a long day of eating who knows what.  Unless your child is a health nut and stays away from sugar, they will likely have a lot of buildup from the day. 

We use the flossers to floss our kid’s teeth.  It will help with your wrist ergonomics and decrease the chance that your fingers will get in the way of a ferocious chomp.  We use electric toothbrushes at night and manual toothbrushes in the morning only because that is the routine we found ourselves in.  I believe both toothbrushes will do a fine job cleaning teeth so choose the one that your child is more likely to use.  As for toothpaste, search around for the flavor your child will like the best; but please make sure it contains fluoride (so long as your child doesn’t have any allergies or other reasons for not using fluoride).  As for the amount of fluoride, our recommendations are a rice-grain size until age 3 and a pea-sized amount after age 3.

So I’m not trying to add to your already eventful morning and evenings.  I’m just trying to encourage healthy routines and cavity-free dental appointments!

Happy brushing and flossing!