Brushing and Flossing


Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small strip of fluoride toothpaste, unless your child is under the age of 3. If your child is younger than age 3, you should clean their teeth with water and a soft-bristled toothbrush. After age 3, you should supervise brushing. Use no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and make sure your child does not swallow excess toothpaste.

When you brush your child’s teeth, move the brush in small circular motions to reach food particles that may be under the 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 several minutes to thoroughly brush your child’s teeth. Brush up on the lower teeth, down on the upper teeth and the outside, inside and chewing surface of all front and back teeth. Brush your child’s tongue and the roof of their mouth before rinsing.

Brush your child’s 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 the toothbrush with a new one. Do not allow your child to swallow any toothpaste. Help them rinse their mouth thoroughly with water after 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 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 your child’s teeth to the gum line, pulling out any food particles or plaque. 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 child’s back teeth.

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

Interdental Toothbrush

A Proxabrush is an interdental (between the teeth) toothbrush that you may use to clean underneath and around your child’s wires and braces. Use the Proxabrush gently to avoid damaging the wires. The Proxabrush will help you clean your child’s braces and maintain healthy teeth and gums.

Antibacterial Mouthwash

Peroxyl, a hydrogen peroxide antiseptic mouth rinse, will reduce inflammation to your child’s gums and cheeks. Peroxyl helps to prevent infection and decrease irritation that may develop from braces. Instruct your child to rinse their mouth with two teaspoons of Peroxyl (half a capful) for one minute and then spit it out. Peroxyl may be used up to four times daily following brushing: after meals (or after school) and before bed. Just like using peroxide for a scrape on the skin, Peroxyl helps the inside of the mouth heal. Peroxyl can be used for general irritation caused by braces or for canker sores, cheek bites and other minor temporary injuries to the gums.

Topical Fluoride

Phos-Flur is a sodium fluoride gel that helps prevent tooth decay while wearing braces by killing bacteria and replacing minerals in tooth enamel that have been exposed to harmful acids. The use of Phos-Flur does not replace daily brushing and flossing but should be done following your child’s daily schedule at bedtime. Place a small strip of Phos-Flur on a toothbrush and apply it to your child’s teeth for one minute; instruct them to spit it out. You child should not eat or drink for 30 minutes after using Phos-Flur. It is important for the active ingredient to stay on their teeth for 30 minutes, so do not allow them to wash it away by eating or drinking.

Cleaning the Removable Appliance

Your child should brush their removable appliance every day as a part of their regular brushing and flossing schedule. Because food particles and plaque can accumulate on their appliance just as they do on their teeth, soak the appliance daily. Dissolve a Polident, Efferdent or other denture-cleaning tablet in a glass of tap water at room temperature and soak the appliance once every day. Your child’s appliance will taste better. This will also prevent plaque and bacterial accumulation.