Home Visit

Brush, Floss, Swish – 6 to 36 months



Starting the Conversation
  • Tell me some of the things that you are doing to take care of your child’s teeth. What’s going well?
  • Have you tried brushing your child’s teeth?
  • What does your child do when you brush his teeth?
Parent and Child Activities

1. Demonstrate how to brush a child’s teeth.

  • Demonstrate how to brush a child’s teeth by using a doll or stuffed animal and following the brushing instructions on the “How to Brush” handout on page 95.
  • Show parent how to choose a comfortable position—the child can lay on the floor, sit in her lap, or sit or stand next to her.
  • Show the parent how to talk with the child calmly or sing a song while brushing—it will soothe the child and make him more comfortable and engaged.
  • Practice “brushing” on the doll or stuffed animal.

How to brush

  • Use a soft bristle toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste. Use a smear of toothpaste from the first tooth up to age 3, a pea-sized amount after that.
  • Hold the brush at an angle where the gum meets the tooth. Food and germs like to stick there.
  • Move the toothbrush in small circles. Count to 5 before moving the brush to another spot.
  • Remember to brush the biting surfaces. That is where the food gets stuck and germs hide.
  • Brush the tongue. Germs hide there too.

2. Practice brushing child’s teeth.

  • Invite parent to practice brushing child’s teeth.
  • If the child needs to have his head stabilized, show the parent how to do this.
  • Let parent choose position she would like to brush the child’s teeth—on the floor, in her lap, or sitting or standing next to her.
  • Brush child’s teeth—talk or sing to the child while brushing and end with a hug.

3. Introduce swish and swallow.

  • Tell parent she can help her child swish and swallow after eating or drinking when they don’t have a toothbrush with them.
  • Children can start swishing and swallowing when they are old enough to spit (usually close to three years old).
  • Demonstrate how to take a drink of water, swish it around, and swallow it.
Extending the Learning

A. Sing the song “This is the Way I Brush My Teeth”

(To the tune “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush” )

This is the way I brush my teeth, brush my teeth, brush my teeth

This is the way I brush my teeth so early in the morning.

This is the way my toothbrush goes round and round, round and round

This is the way my toothbrush goes round and round so early in the morning.

This is the way I swish and swallow, swish and swallow, swish and swallow

This is the way I swish and swallow so early in the morning.

  • Let the child practice brushing a baby doll’s teeth.

B. Make stickers

  • Let the child draw toothbrushes, teeth, or germs on the stickers. Use the stickers on the toothbrushing chart.

C. Toothbrushing routine

  • Have the child brush a doll/stuffed animal’s teeth and then put the doll/stuffed animal to bed. Remind the child that the toothbrush is the last thing to touch his teeth before he goes to sleep!

D. Toothbrushing is fun!

Have parent put a special toy in the bathroom before brushing time. The toy can “watch” the parent and child brush or the child can hold the toy during tooth brushing time.

Take turns: child starts brushing, parent finishes.

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