As soon as the first tooth pokes through your child’s gums, you should begin to implement an oral care routine in the morning and evening. Every child is unique and responds to toothbrushing and flossing differently. You may encounter resistance from time to time as your child grows and develops personality, but the struggle will feel totally worth it each time you enjoy your little one’s happy and healthy smile!
UNDER THE AGE OF TWO
You should always assist a child with toothbrushing at this young age. The easiest, most effective way to brush is with your child lying down because you can see and reach all areas of the teeth and gums without being invasive or aggressive. Find a position that is comfortable for both of you—using a changing table, bed, couch or even the floor. Apply a small grain-sized amount of toothpaste to a soft, baby-sized toothbrush. Gently lift the child’s lips as you brush, making sure to cover the area where the teeth and gums meet. Wipe off any excess foam with a wet cloth.
BY AGE THREE
Between the ages of two and three, you can begin to transition your child to a seated position for toothbrushing. Apply a pea-sized amount of toothpaste to a soft, child-sized toothbrush, and approach from the side rather than the front of the mouth to avoid triggering your child’s gag reflex. Be sure to brush the tongue, as bacteria collect and grow there, too. By age three, you should also be gently flossing between teeth to remove plaque and food particles from tight areas where a toothbrush can’t reach.
AGE FOUR AND OLDER
A powered toothbrush can be an exceptional tool for children age four or older. This inexpensive device helps make up for deficiencies in brushing dexterity and can inspire interest in even the most reluctant brushers. Choose a powered toothbrush with a child-sized head so it fits properly and can reach back teeth comfortably. It’s important that you continue to supervise and participate in oral care even as your child begins to demonstrate confidence and interest in brushing independently—especially when using fluoridated toothpaste. Children brushing without supervision should use only non-fluoridated toothpaste until they’ve mastered the art of rinsing and spitting.
Start early. Be consistent. Follow these age-related guidelines. If you do, you’ll instill great oral care habits and create a beautiful smile that will last a lifetime!