We are often asked when it’s time to introduce a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss to your child — plus the right age to schedule that first trip to the dentist’s chair.
When to start Brushing?
Before age two. After the first baby tooth shows up, you don’t need to brush, but it’s a good idea for parents to gently wipe teeth with a paper towel or cloth once a day to clear off debris. This also gets babies used to having something in their mouths, so they’re less resistant when it’s time to begin brushing regularly. Skip toothpaste and go with warm water only.
By age two, kids should have their own small, soft-bristled toothbrush, and they should brush twice a day, once in the morning and before bedtime. Your child has probably seen you do it many times and knows the general idea, but demonstrate brushing for them so they know to clean outside and inside for two minutes total with a pea-size squeeze of fluoride-free toothpaste. You may need to help them to brush properly at first.
It depends on how cooperative a child is, but regular flossing should start by age five. Show them how to do it, but it’s a little harder than brushing, so don’t expect great results. Just like grown-ups, kids can get lazy about flossing. Make it more appealing by letting them pick out the floss flavor or doing it with them so it’s a fun bedtime ritual. Flossers are also a great way for kids to floss if they have trouble holding regular floss.
Going to the Dentist
We recommend that a child’s first visit occurs arounds 2 ½. We make this visit a fun visit and never push the child. Sitting in the dentist chair and being asked to open wide can be scary, so it’s smart to get children used to the experience by bringing them to your appointments when they’re too young for their own. Let them sit in your lap while a dentist takes a quick look in their mouth. This helps acclimate kids to the dentist visit and also reveals any issues, like plaque buildup or cavities. We will always see your child at anytime before 2 if you have any questions or concerns.
X-rays typically start between ages 3 and 5, but many dentists don’t repeat them on kids as frequently as they do for adults. In case you’re worried about radiation, keep this in mind: X-rays today are digital, and the radiation is a third of the already low level of regular x-rays.