caregivers providers

Brushing and Flossing Your Toddler or Preschooler's Teeth

Healthy teeth are a part of your baby’s overall health. Starting your baby or toddler on healthy foods and healthy eating habits is essential. So is daily oral care. Visually checking your baby’s teeth is also important. This should be done frequently by you and at least annually by a dentist or doctor trained in infant and toddler oral screening.

Brushing and Flossing

You need to brush your young child's teeth. Your child may be ready to practice brushing at about age 4 or 5, but they still need your help until they are 8 years old or until they can tie their shoes. Brush and floss your own teeth and have regular dental checkups, too. You are a role model for your child.

  • Brush your child’s teeth at least twice a day. Always brush at bedtime.
  • Brush soon after your child has a high-carbohydrate, sweet or sticky snack or drink (including juice). If brushing is not possible, rinse their mouth with water.
  • Use a small soft toothbrush and a smear (a rice-sized amount) of fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Brush for at least two minutes, brushing in tiny circles.
  • Brush every surface of every tooth and the tongue.
  • Each family member should have his or her own toothbrush.
  • Replace your child’s toothbrush every three to four months.
  • Get your child involved in the brushing process. It will make things easier when they start brushing their own teeth.
  • When the sides of your child’s teeth touch, floss at least once a day to remove small pieces of food stuck between teeth.

Visual Check: Lift the Lip and Look

Keep in tune with your child’s mouth. Teeth can change quickly. At least every month, lift your child’s lip and take a close look at the teeth and gums.

Tooth decay often starts along the front or back side of the front teeth or along the gums. The first sign of early decay is a white spot. If you notice white or brown spots on the teeth or see anything unusual, contact your baby’s dentist or doctor. He or she may be able to stop and reverse early decay by applying fluoride varnish.

Thumb Sucking and Pacifier Use

Thumb and finger sucking and pacifier use decrease with age. The majority of toddlers discontinue this by the time they are 2-4 years old. If the behavior continues beyond 4 years, there is a risk of an overbite. Talk to your dentist or your baby’s doctor if you have concerns.