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Oral Hygiene


Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small strip of fluoride toothpaste, which helps protect your teeth from decay, unless the child is under the age of 3. If a child is younger than age 3, parents should clean their child’s teeth with water and a soft-bristled toothbrush. After age 3, parents should supervise brushing. Use no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and make sure children do not swallow excess toothpaste.

When you brush your teeth, move the brush in small circular motions to reach food particles that may be under your gum line. Hold the toothbrush at an angle and brush slowly and carefully, covering all areas between teeth and the surface of each tooth. It will take you two minutes to thoroughly brush your teeth. Brush up on the lower teeth, down on the upper teeth and the outside, inside and chewing surface of all of your front and back teeth. Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath before you rinse.

Brush your teeth four times daily to avoid the accumulation of food particles and plaque:

  • In the morning after breakfast
  • After lunch or right after school
  • After dinner
  • At bedtime

As soon as the bristles start to wear down or fray, replace your toothbrush with a new one. Do not swallow any toothpaste; rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after you finish brushing. It is important to carefully floss and brush daily for optimal oral hygiene.


For areas between the teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach, dental floss is used to remove food particles and plaque. Dental floss is a thin thread of waxed nylon that is used to reach below the gum line and clean between teeth. It is very important to floss between your teeth every day.

Pull a small length of floss from the dispenser. Wrap the ends of the floss tightly around your middle fingers. Guide the floss between all teeth to the gum line using a gentle rubbing motion, pulling out any food particles or plaque. When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth. Bring the floss back toward the contact point between the teeth and move the floss up or down the other side, conforming the floss to the shape of the tooth. Unwrap clean floss from around your fingers as you go, so that you have used the floss from beginning to end when you finish. Floss behind all of your back teeth.

Floss at night to make sure your teeth are squeaky clean before you go to bed. When you first begin flossing, your gums may bleed a little. If the bleeding does not go away after the first few times, let a staff member know at your next appointment.

Brushing: Step 1

Place your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to your gum.

Brushing: Step 2

Brush gently in a circular motion.

Brushing: Step 3

Brush the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of each tooth.

Brushing: Step 4

Use the tip of your brush for the inner surface of your front teeth.

Flossing: Step 1

Wind about 18 inches of floss around your fingers as shown. Most of it should be wrapped around one finger, and as the floss is used, the other finger takes it up.

Flossing: Step 2

Use your thumbs and forefingers to guide about one inch of floss between your teeth.

Flossing: Step 3

Holding the floss tightly, gently saw the floss between your teeth. Then curve the floss into a C-shape against one tooth and gently slide it beneath your gums.

Flossing: Step 4

Slide the floss up and down, repeating for each tooth.

Printable instructions >

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