Before teeth erupt, caregivers should wash the gums and tongue with a wet washcloth after feedings.
With eruption of the first tooth, begin brushing with a soft-bristled, small-head brush. The most important time to brush is at night, after the last feeding. In addition, parents should brush the child’s teeth at least twice a day (morning and night) by 1 year of age. Children should not be allowed to consume any sugary liquids (eg, milk, juice) after brushing at night (water only).
Caregivers should position themselves behind the child (sitting the child in their lap facing out or stand behind the child, both facing the mirror). All the surfaces of every tooth should be brushed, taking care to lift the lip to brush the top gum line, pull down the lip to brush the bottom gum line, and brush the top of all the molars.
Toothbrushing should be performed or assisted by the parent until the child is 7 or 8 years of age and supervised thereafter until the child can do an adequate job of brushing.
Parents should begin flossing the child’s teeth as soon as the surfaces of the teeth touch one another. Flossing should be done once a day, preferably with the evening brushing. Typically, flossing should be assisted by a parent until the child is 10 years old.