Many parents want to know: At what age should I brush and floss my child’s teeth? A good rule is to start flossing as soon as the child has teeth that are in contact with each other, usually around age two to three years. Once teeth reach this point, food particles can get caught between them and foster the growth of bacteria and the development of plaque. Not all children need to have their teeth flossed at this age, so ask your dentist for advice. But the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents should be brushing a toddler’s teeth twice daily with a soft-bristled brush specially designed for toddlers’ small mouths and delicate gums.
And good oral care starts before teeth appear. The AAP recommends that, after a feeding, parents wipe a baby’s gums with a soft washcloth or a baby toothbrush using water only (no toothpaste). You could also use a dentist-recommended cleanser. Once a child reaches 12 months of age, start brushing any existing teeth twice each day. Some dentists recommend using a non-fluoride toothpaste before a child reaches two years of age, but ask to be sure. Water and an age-appropriate toothbrush may suffice.
Once children reach two years of age, encourage them to brush their own teeth. Parents, however, should still follow up and brush them again to make sure they’re clean. If a child resists having his or her teeth brushed, parents need to get creative and make the process fun, like “looking for treasure behind the teeth.” And of course, using a themed brush with your child’s favorite cartoon characters can make brushing more enjoyable.