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You may be surprised to learn how early you should start your child’s oral care. The American Dental Association recommends that you schedule your child’s first dental visit within 6 months of the first tooth coming in, or no later than their first birthday.

Brushing baby teeth

Strange as it may seem, even very early teeth are susceptible to cavities. This is why it is also recommended that parents start “brushing” their child’s teeth at this stage as well. It seems early, but it is crucial to getting your child started on the path to good oral care. You don’t have to go all in at this point, however—cleaning early teeth with a soft cloth or soft-bristled infant toothbrush—no toothpaste—is all that’s needed.

Once your child has two teeth that touch each other, you will need to make sure to brush away any food particles between their teeth to help prevent early decay. You can also floss gently between their teeth.


As infants grow, parents should introduce a regular oral care routine. Help your child learn to brush twice a day for about two minutes, and introduce toothpaste in small amounts. For children under the age of three, a very small amount of toothpaste can be used—about the size of a grain of rice. As they get older, your child should use a pea-sized dab of toothpaste. Be sure to let the kids know not to swallow the toothpaste, no matter how yummy it tastes!

Model good oral care

As your child gets older and can manipulate a toothbrush and floss by on their own, this is a good time to model good brushing behavior. Make it an activity you do together, both so you can show your child how to brush and floss correctly, and so you can make sure they do it!

Set up a good brushing environment

Put a stool in front of the sink so your child can reach the tap and be able to spit out the toothpaste. Make sure they can see themselves in the mirror so they can watch what they’re doing as they brush and floss.

You might also try different types and flavors of toothpaste so your child can find a special one they like. Many companies offer toothpastes that are made just for kids, so check your local drugstore to see what’s available.

Similarly, you can find special flossers that make it easy for small hands to deal with the act of flossing between their teeth while their motor skills are still developing.

Source: Children’s Oral Health | Basics | Children’s Oral Health | Division of Oral Health | CDC

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