Start caring for your child's teeth as soon as you see
the first baby (primary) tooth. Some tips on dental care for a child include
Clean your baby's first teeth with a soft-bristled baby toothbrush twice a day. Use a very small amount (a smear) of fluoride toothpaste. When your child is age 2 years, it's okay to start using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. It's dangerous if your child swallows too much fluoride. Have your child spit out extra toothpaste. Keep all fluoride products, such as toothpastes and mouthwashes, away from your child. Too much fluoride may be toxic and can stain a child's teeth.
Flossing is an important part of
good dental health. Start flossing your child's teeth when he or she has teeth
that touch each other. Talk with your dentist about the right timing and
technique to floss your child's teeth and to teach your child to floss.
Plastic flossing tools may be helpful.
From time to time, you may
want to use disclosing tablets. Disclosing tablets are chewable tablets that
color any plaque that remains after brushing. You can get these tablets at most
If your child age 6 or older has cavities, ask the dentist if your child should try mouthwash. Do not give
your child a mouthwash that contains alcohol. The alcohol can be harmful if
How to brush your child's teeth
Kneel down behind your child and have him or her
stand between your knees, facing away from you.
With one hand,
gently press your child's head against your chest.
With the other
hand, brush his or her teeth. You may also push away the upper and lower lips
to make it easier to get to the teeth.
Pay special attention to
where the teeth meet the gums.
Although some children quickly learn to brush their teeth, others do
not. If you are having trouble getting your child to brush, try some of the
My, what big teeth you have! Many children have a favorite stuffed animal or action figure. Use the toy to
explain why it is important to brush. Then, have your child brush the toy's teeth after brushing his or her own teeth.
Monkey see, monkey do. Brush your teeth together with your child and do it in stages. You can also switch roles and let your child lead the
Time is on my side. Use a timer or hourglass. Choose a time that
lasts for as long as you feel is necessary. Humming a favorite song while brushing can also keep your child
Sticks to a card, not your teeth. To reward
your child for doing well, make a form that he or she can put a sticker on
after brushing. Use a variety of stickers.
You can also involve your child in dental health by letting him or
her pick out a toothbrush and toothpaste. Talk to your dentist about the type
of toothbrush your child needs, and steer your child in that direction. When
choosing a toothpaste, stay clear of tartar-cleaning toothpastes, as they may
taste bad or "sting" a young child's mouth. Ask your child if he or she likes the toothpaste, and change it if
this is not the case.
Your child can learn how to
brush his or her own teeth at about 3 years of age and should be brushing his
or her own teeth morning and night by age 4. Parents should supervise
and check for proper cleaning.
By 8 years of age,
your child will probably no longer need your help. It is important that your
child make brushing a habit, as this limits
tooth decay and helps prevent
Set a good example. Children imitate their parents.
If your child sees that you don't brush, don't seem to enjoy brushing, or
do it too quickly, he or she might well do the same.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.