Kids' Dental Hygiene

Daily Dental Hygiene Practices


For children, who are more prone to cavities due to their fondness for sweets and sometimes erratic brushing habits, proper brushing is even more crucial. Here’s how to ensure that your child's brushing routine is effective:

Choosing the right toothbrush and toothpaste

Toothbrush: Selecting an appropriate toothbrush for your child is the first step toward effective brushing. For children, a soft-bristled brush with a small head is ideal, as it can easily reach all areas of the mouth, including the back molars. Many toothbrushes designed for kids also feature fun characters or colors, making brushing an enjoyable activity. Electric toothbrushes can also be suitable for children, as they can be more effective in removing plaque and are often seen as more fun to use.

Toothpaste: When it comes to toothpaste, look for one that contains fluoride but is designed specifically for children. Fluoride helps strengthen the enamel and prevent cavities.  Toothpaste that comes in appealing flavors can make brushing more attractive to kids, but ensure it’s not so tasty that they want to swallow it.

Proper brushing techniques

Teaching your child the correct technique for brushing is critical for their dental health. Start with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush. Guide your child to brush all surfaces of the teeth, including the fronts, backs, and the chewing surfaces, using gentle, circular motions. Remind them not to forget about the gum line, as plaque tends to accumulate there. For very young children, you’ll need to brush their teeth for them, gradually letting them take over as they develop the skill and coordination to do it effectively on their own.

Frequency and duration of brushing

Frequency: The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice a day—once in the morning and once before bedtime.

Duration: Each brushing session should last for about two minutes. This duration ensures that enough attention is given to all areas of the mouth. Using a timer or playing a two-minute song can help keep track of time and make brushing more fun for children.


While brushing is fundamental, flossing is equally important in a child's dental hygiene routine. It removes food particles and plaque from between the teeth and under the gumline, areas where a toothbrush can't reach. Introducing flossing early in life can help prevent interdental cavities and gum disease.

Techniques for Effective Flossing

For effective flossing, use a piece of floss about 18 inches long, winding most of it around one of your middle fingers and the rest around the same finger of the opposite hand. This setup allows you to use a clean section of floss for each tooth. Guide the floss gently between two teeth using a back-and-forth motion. Curve it into a "C" shape against one tooth and slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth until you feel resistance. Gently scrape the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum. Repeat this process on the remaining teeth, including the back sides of the last teeth.


Rinsing with mouthwash can be a valuable addition to brushing and flossing, especially for older children who can reliably swish and spit without swallowing the product.

Using Mouthwash for Older Children

Mouthwash should generally be introduced when a child can understand and perform the act of rinsing without swallowing—typically around the age of six. Opt for alcohol-free, fluoride-containing mouthwashes designed for children, which can help strengthen enamel and prevent cavities. Mouthwash is not a substitute for brushing or flossing but rather a supplementary measure that can help reduce oral bacteria and freshen breath.

Safe Rinsing Practices

To ensure safety and effectiveness, supervise the first few attempts at rinsing to make sure your child understands how to swish the mouthwash around their mouth and spit it out completely. Explain the importance of not swallowing mouthwash due to the ingredients that can be harmful if ingested. Start with a small amount of mouthwash, following the product's recommended dosage for children. Encourage your child to rinse for about 30 seconds before spitting the mouthwash out.  Make sure your child does not eat or drink anything for 30 minutes after rinsing in order for the fluoride to be effective.

Dental Hygiene Tips for Various Age Groups

Here's how to tailor dental care to each stage of a child's development.

Infants and Toddlers

For the youngest in the family, dental care begins even before the first tooth appears.

1. Gently Cleaning Gums

Before your baby's teeth come in, it's important to care for their gums. You can gently clean your baby's gums with a soft, damp cloth or a specially designed infant gum massager.

2. Introduction to Brushing

As soon as the first tooth appears, it's time to start brushing. Use a small, soft-bristled toothbrush designed for infants and a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste (no larger than a grain of rice). Brush gently twice a day, focusing on cleaning the teeth and the front and back surfaces. As more teeth appear, ensure all surfaces are cleaned thoroughly.


Preschoolers are learning to take on new responsibilities but still need guidance and supervision in their dental hygiene routines.

1. Supervised Brushing

Children in this age group should brush their teeth twice a day under adult supervision. This ensures they're using the right amount of toothpaste (a pea-sized amount), reaching all areas of their mouth, and brushing for a full two minutes. It's also important to start teaching them how to rinse and spit after brushing during these formative years.

2. Making Dental Hygiene Fun

Keeping young children engaged in their dental care routine can be challenging, so making it fun is key. Consider using toothbrushes that feature their favorite characters, flavored toothpaste that they enjoy, or playing a song for two minutes to ensure they brush for the right duration.

School-Aged Children

Encourage school-aged children to take charge of their oral hygiene by brushing and flossing without direct supervision.

Addressing Dental Hygiene Challenges

Overcoming Resistance to Brushing and Flossing

Resistance to brushing and flossing is a common challenge parents face. However, with creative solutions and the right educational tools, this hurdle can be overcome.

1. Creative Solutions and Incentives

Turning dental hygiene into a fun activity can greatly reduce resistance from children. Here are a few ideas:

  - Reward Systems: Create a rewards chart where children can earn stickers for brushing and flossing, leading up to a small reward after a certain number of stickers.

  - Toothbrushing Songs and Games: Use songs, stories, or games that last two minutes to keep children entertained while they brush. There are apps available that gamify the brushing experience, encouraging kids to brush thoroughly.

  - Family Brushing Time: Making tooth brushing and flossing a family activity can encourage participation through modeling behavior. Seeing parents and siblings engaging in good dental hygiene practices can motivate children to follow suit.

2. Educational Resources and Tools

Educating children on the importance of dental hygiene in an age-appropriate manner can also help reduce resistance. Consider using:

  - Books and Videos: Numerous children's books and videos are designed to teach the importance of brushing and flossing in a fun and engaging way.

  - Dentist Demonstrations: Ask your dentist to demonstrate proper brushing and flossing techniques during your visit, emphasizing the importance of regular dental care.

CALL 702-660-7099Back to All Posts