Brushing Up on Your Brushing Skills

Teaching your child to brush?  You probably don't remember who taught you how to brush your teeth but it was most likely a combination of watching your parents and learning at school. Considering most adults could use a "brushing up" on their brushing skills, it's best to revisit the right way to brush.

Toddlers love to mimic their parents so use the Partner approach. This is simply partnering up with your child in the bathroom because the best way to teach kids is by letting them watch you brush. Dentists recommend placing the toothbrush in the child's hand, and guiding it in their mouth. This allows your child to get a feel for the brush in their hand even before he or she can hold it without assistance.

Dentists recommend parents continue to supervise your child's brushing until the age of 6.

• For children younger than 3 years, begin brushing teeth as they come in using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Use no more than a smear or an amount the size of a grain of rice. Take care that your child doesn't swallow the toothpaste.

• For children 3 to 6 years of age, use a pea-sized dab of toothpaste on a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush morning and night. Supervise children's brushing and remind them not to swallow the toothpaste.

• First, brush the inside surfaces of all teeth, where plaque accumulates most. Angle bristles toward the gumline. Brush gently back and forth.

• Next, clean all outside surfaces of teeth. Angle bristles toward the gumline. Brush gently back and forth.

• Last, place brush on the chewing surfaces of the teeth. Brush gently back and forth