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Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs About Brushing/Flossing

*This webpage is for information purposes only. It is NOT a substitute for professional dental advice.*

FAQs About Brushing

FAQs About Flossing

FAQs About Brushing

Which kind of toothbrush should my child use?

Your child should use a soft, age-appropriate toothbrush. For infants, you can buy very soft finger toothbrushes or you can use a clean, damp cloth.

Should my child use fluoride toothpaste?

Parents/caregivers of children under 3 years of age should help brush their child’s teeth, using a toothbrush moistened only with water to minimize the risk of dental fluorosis (Dental fluorosis can occur when a child swallows too much fluoride when their teeth are developing. In its mildest form, which is the most common form, fluorosis appears as tiny white streaks or specks that are often unnoticeable. It is cosmetic in nature, and does not affect the function of the tooth). Talk to a health professional to determine if your child is at risk of developing tooth decay. They can determine if and when your child should use fluoride toothpaste.

Parents/caregivers of children 3-6 years of age should help brush their child’s teeth, using only a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.

Be sure to choose a toothpaste brand that’s been recognized by the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) when buying toothpaste for your child.

My baby doesn’t have teeth yet. Do I still need to clean her mouth?

Print our How to Brush handout

Yes. It’s important to start cleaning your baby’s mouth shortly after birth, even before your baby’s first tooth appears. Start as early as you can so your baby gets used to having his mouth cleaned. Be sure to wipe your baby’s gums and tongue after every feeding with a soft fingerbrush or clean, damp cloth.  This will keep the mouth clean and the baby will get used to having their mouth cleaned from an early age. 

When should I start to brush my child’s teeth?

As soon as the first tooth appears, usually between 6 months and 1 year, you can start using a baby toothbrush.

How often should I brush?

Twice a day: once in the morning and at night before bed for two minutes each time.  
If you can brush your teeth only once a day, brush at night.  
It’s important to go to sleep with a clean mouth.

During the night you produce less saliva. Saliva helps wash the bacteria out of your mouth.  Brushing your teeth decreases the bacteria in your mouth.  If you go to sleep without brushing, the bacteria will settle on your teeth all night. Bacteria then mix with the food left on your teeth to create acid, which eats away at the tooth enamel and causes cavities.

Should I help my child brush?

Yes. Most children can’t brush on their own. They need a parent or caregiver’s help to make sure that they brush thoroughly and properly.
Generally speaking, parents should supervise and help a child brush their teeth until the child can tie his shoelaces.

What are some other ways of cleaning my teeth?

Brushing is the best way to prevent cavities.

If you don’t have your toothbrush on hand, chew a piece of cheese, rinse your mouth with water or chew a piece of sugar-free gum.

When should I replace my toothbrush?

The Canadian Dental Association recommends replacing your toothbrush every 3 months.

FAQs About Flossing

Why should I floss?

It is important to floss because your toothbrush can’t clean between your teeth and under your gums. Flossing cleans where the toothbrush cannot reach. Only flossing will eliminate the germs between your teeth that your toothbrush can’t reach.

When should my child start to floss?

You should start flossing your child’s teeth as soon as the teeth are close together. This could be as early as 6 months.

How often should I floss?

You should floss at least once a day.

I find it hard to floss. What are my options?

Many people find plastic floss holders easier to use than a
strand of floss.

Knowing how to floss correctly will also make flossing easier.

Can I use mouthwash instead of flossing?

No. Only flossing will eliminate the germs between your teeth that your toothbrush can’t reach.

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Revised: March 24, 2020

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