What is tooth brushing?

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Brushing the tongue

How to brush the tongue

Brush your tongue from back to front. Some people put some toothpaste or mouthwash on their toothbrush when they do this.

Brushing your tongue helps remove plaque, which can cause bad breath and encourage bacteria growth.

Encouraging toothbrushing in children

Although some children quickly learn to brush their teeth, others do not. If you are having trouble getting your child to brush, try some of the following suggestions.

  • Use a favorite toy to explain why it's important to brush.

    Many children have a favorite stuffed animal or action figure. You can encourage your child to brush the toy's teeth after brushing their own teeth.

  • Set a good example.

    Brush your teeth together with your child, and do it in stages. You can also switch roles and let your child lead the brushing.

  • Use a timer or an hourglass.

    Choose a time that lasts for as long as you feel is necessary. Humming a favorite song while brushing can also keep your child brushing longer.

  • Give your child a reward for brushing.

    For example, to reward your child for doing well, make a form that they can put a sticker on after brushing. Use a variety of stickers.

  • Let your child pick out a toothbrush and toothpaste.

    Talk to your dentist about the type of toothbrush your child needs, and steer your child in that direction. When choosing a toothpaste, stay clear of tartar-cleaning toothpastes, as they may taste bad or "sting" a young child's mouth. Ask if your child likes the toothpaste, and change it if needed.

How to brush your child's teeth

Brush your child's teeth twice a day using a small, soft brush. If your child is younger than 3 years, ask your dentist if it's okay to use a rice-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Use a pea-sized amount for children ages 3 to 6 years.

  1. Kneel down or sit in a chair behind your child and have your child stand between your knees, facing away from you.
  2. With one hand, gently press your child's head against your chest.

    You may also use that hand to push away the upper and lower lips to make it easier to get to the teeth.

  3. With the other hand, brush your child's teeth.

    Pay special attention to where the teeth meet the gums.

Talk with your dentist about when and how to floss your child's teeth or to teach your child to floss. Plastic flossing tools may be helpful.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.