You can keep your child’s little pearly whites strong, healthy and looking their best teaching him about proper dental care. Each day you and your child should complete a brushing, flossing and rinsing checklist. This daily routine, along with regular pediatric dental visits, helps set a good foundation for proper dental hygiene. If you're wondering when you should start brushing your child's teeth, the fact is that good dental hygiene should begin even before a baby's first tooth appears, notes the KidsHealth website. Run a damp washcloth over your baby's gums daily while he's teething to help clear away harmful bacteria. Once teeth appear, use water with just a smidgeon of toothpaste on an infant toothbrush to brush your child's teeth until about age 2 -- which is when children can typically rinse and spit out the toothpaste and you can just supervise the brushing.
Children need to floss once a day. You will have to help your floss until he develops the ability to do it himself, which can be close to age 10, notes the Oral-B website. Get soft, flexible dental floss or flossers made for kids. Cut an 18-inch length of floss and wrap the ends around two middle fingers or grab a flosser. Use a gentle sliding motion to get the floss between the teeth. Curve the floss along the side of each tooth and just below the gum line along the teeth, moving it up and down gently. Move to the next section and repeat until all the teeth are flossed. Flossing before brushing helps loosen food particles so you can remove them more easily.
Your child should brush at least twice a day, preferably after breakfast and before bedtime. Brushing after each meal is even better. Place a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste on your child’s soft bristle toothbrush. If your child is under age 2, use a smear of non-fluoride training toothpaste, as the American Dental Association recommends that children under age 2, do not use fluoride products. Remind your child to spit out the toothpaste instead of swallowing it. He should brush all surfaces of his teeth with a gentle, short, back-and-forth motion for two minutes.
Show your child how to rinse his mouth properly after he is done brushing. He can use his hand to collect water and suck it into his mouth or he can use a cup. Have him swirl the water around in his mouth to remove the toothpaste residue and then spit the water into the sink. Show him how to thoroughly rinse his toothbrush with water, too.
Keep a few other factors in mind when it comes to your child's dental health. The American Dental Association recommends replacing your child’s toothbrush every three to four months or when it starts to show wear. Supervise your child’s brushing until he is about 5 or 6 years old or you are satisfied with his brushing technique. Take your child to see a pediatric dentist regularly to maintain his dental health. Be a good dental health role model by demonstrating proper dental care yourself every day.