Good Habits



Dr. Molly Gunsaulis encourages parents to brush their child's teeth. When do you need to start dental care for your child? A child can brush their own teeth once they master tying shoe laces by themselves. Once a child can do this they have developed the proper hand-eye coordination, and parents only have to supervise from here on out.

Dr. Gunsaulis knows that providing dental care at home is not easy with every child. Don't lose heart, we can guide you through this process and we routinely give parents tricks that make them say:

  • What a good idea
  • toothpaste-sample-02.jpgI know that will work
  • Why didn't I think of that before

Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small amount of fluoride toothpaste. If your child is under age two or can't yet spit the toothpaste out after brushing, use the equivalent of a grain of rice of toothpaste which just covers the edges of the bristles and is difficult to see after applying.

toothpaste-sample-02.jpgOnce a child is able to spit toothpaste out you may use enough toothpaste to equal the size of a green pea. 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, covering all areas between teeth. Always brush in circles, and never in a back-and-forth motion or a side-to-side motion. Brushing for two minutes ensures the optimal fluoride uptake required to prevent disease.

Brush your child's teeth at least two times a day to avoid the build-up of food particles and plaque:

  • In the morning
  • Right before bedtime

Replace your child's toothbrush at least every 3 months or as soon as the bristles start to wear of fray. It is important to carefully brush and floss daily for optimal oral hygiene and to prevent tooth decay.


Infants and Toddlers

For infants and toddlers, lay your child down on a bed or your lap. This works for older children as well. Support their mouth in an open position by gently placing your index finger behind the last tooth in the mouth and between the upper and lower gums (be sure your finger is on gums only because if it gets near a tooth, even a small unintentional bite can be very painful.) This keeps your child's mouth open so you can reach all the surfaces of their teeth with a toothbrush and makes flossing with a floss stick possible.


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. Once Dr. Gunsaulis has examined your child's mouth she can recommend what age you will need to start flossing your child's teeth. When your child has reached this critical stage (when the teeth touch side-by-side and you can't see space between each tooth), it will be necessary to floss once every day.

Pull a length of floss from the dispenser that is comfortable to wrap around both middle fingers with enough room between to reach all teeth. Guide the floss between all 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 are finished. Floss behind all of your child's back teeth, too.

You may floss your child's teeth anytime during the day, but it is best to floss about the same time every day in order to create a habit. When you first begin flossing, your child's gums may bleed. Bleeding gums are a sign of gingivitis and it is important to continue brushing and flossing this area. If the bleeding does not go away with continued brushing and flossing, let us know.