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Dental Care

Taking care of your children’s teeth is an important part of their development. Find out what you can do to keep your child’s teeth healthy.

Baby with open mouth and two bottom teeth

Many parents don't realize they should start their baby’s dental care very early on. Brushing teeth (with a toothbrush designed for babies) starts as soon as that first baby tooth sprouts, which is usually between four and seven months old.

Here are some dental care tips:
  • Wipe your newborn’s gums with a clean, damp cloth at least once a day.

  • Begin brushing with a baby toothbrush when your child’s first tooth appears until he or she is 12 months old. At age one, your child should brush twice a day.

  • Ask your child’s doctor or dentist whether to use toothpaste, and what type of toothpaste to use. Typically, you should start using a tiny amount of fluoride toothpaste when your child is between the ages of two and three and able to understand how to spit out the toothpaste (instead of swallowing it). Be sure to talk to your child’s doctor or dentist about this, and supervise your child closely.

  • Use a small, soft toothbrush with round-ended bristles made just for babies or children.

  • Brush your child’s teeth using a circular motion. A back-and-forth motion can wear down a baby’s or child’s gums.

  • Brush everywhere – the front side, back side, tops, in between each tooth, and around the gums.

  • Young children should practice brushing every day, but it’s important for you to handle the “final brushing” for your child until around eight years of age to make sure the job is done right.

Brushing Routine Tips

Let’s face it – brushing isn’t always a child’s favorite activity. Make it part of your daily routine (morning and bedtime) so your child knows it will happen every day. Add some extra fun with these simple ideas:

  • Use brightly colored and age-appropriate toothbrushes and child-friendly toothpaste.

  • Sing silly songs or fun new lyrics to classics like “Old McDonald Had a Farm” as you are brushing their teeth.

  • Have your child make sounds that make them open their mouths wide, like saying “ahhh” really loud or roaring like a lion.

QUICK TIP: Starting at age one, teeth should be brushed for about two minutes. Use a timer on your phone or watch the time on a clock to track the two minutes. Use it as an opportunity to practice counting and saying numbers!

First 5 California
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First 5 California
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