When should I start brushing my child's teeth?

Megan  Chin, DDS
Pediatric Dentistry
You can begin wiping or brushing with a cloth or soft infant brush and water to clean your baby's mouth even before the first tooth erupts. Before the age of two, only a smear of toothpaste should be used, and between two and five years, you can use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.

Use discretion when using fluoride-containing toothpaste, and make sure she spits completely after brushing to minimize ingestion of excess toothpaste. While beneficial, too much fluoride can cause fluorosis and can affect the appearance of her adult teeth.

Your youngster should brush at least twice daily: after breakfast and before going to bed. If she takes medicine by mouth, it’s best to brush her teeth afterward, as medication often is sweetened with sugar or flavoring.

She should floss at least once a day to clean in between the teeth that touch, and she should always have adult supervision when she brushes and flosses.
Diana K. Blythe, MD

You should start brushing your children's teeth as soon as you see them. For most kids, the first tooth appears around six months old, but anywhere from four months to one year is considered normal. In addition, try to bring your children to the dentist before their first birthdays.

Begin brushing your child's teeth with a little water as soon as the first tooth appears. If you are considering using toothpaste before the child is 2 years of age, ask your dentist or physician first.
You should clean your children's teeth as soon as they come in. You may use a toothbrush or soft cloth if teeth appear before your child's first birthday, but you should begin using a soft brush and water two times daily between the ages of one and two. After your child's second birthday, you should begin using toothpaste as well. If you are concerned because your child's teeth have come in early or are coming in slowly,  talk to your dentist about the best way to care for them. As for flossing, you should discuss the right time to begin with your dentist. Depending on your child's teeth, you may  need to help them floss until they are a little bit older.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.