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When should my child start brushing their teeth?

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Brushing is crucial from the get-go. Before your baby has teeth, you can gently brush his gums. Use water on a baby toothbrush, or clean them with a soft washcloth.

When your baby's teeth appear, brush twice a day with an infant toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste.

Start flossing when two of his teeth touch each other. Ask your dentist about techniques and schedules.

Brush and floss just before bedtime. After that, don't give your child any food or drink, except water, until the next morning.

Your dentist can suggest when your child should start using mouthwash. You'll need to wait until he knows how to spit it out.

SOURCES:

Beverly Largent, DMD, Paducah, KY; past president, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

Mary Hayes, DDS, pediatric dentist, Chicago; spokeswoman, American Dental Association.

American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry: "Dental Home Online Resource Center,"  "CDC Report Highlights Importance of Pediatric Dental Visits," "Dental Care for Your Baby."

CDC: "Preventing Dental Caries with Community Programs," "Children's Oral Health."

Children's Dental Health Project: "Cost Effectiveness of Preventive Dental Services."

American Academy of Pediatrics, Section on Pediatric Dentistry.   May 1, 2003. Pediatrics,

American Academy of Pediatrics, Section on Pediatric Dentistry and Oral Health.  Dec. 1, 2008. Pediatrics,

American Dental Association: "Common Mouth Sores," "Good Oral Health Practices Should Begin in Infancy."

Medicinenet.com: "Thrush and Other Yeast Infections in Children."

American Academy of Pediatrics: "What is the best way to take care of a young child's teeth?"

Reviewed by Michael Friedman on July 31, 2017

SOURCES:

Beverly Largent, DMD, Paducah, KY; past president, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

Mary Hayes, DDS, pediatric dentist, Chicago; spokeswoman, American Dental Association.

American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry: "Dental Home Online Resource Center,"  "CDC Report Highlights Importance of Pediatric Dental Visits," "Dental Care for Your Baby."

CDC: "Preventing Dental Caries with Community Programs," "Children's Oral Health."

Children's Dental Health Project: "Cost Effectiveness of Preventive Dental Services."

American Academy of Pediatrics, Section on Pediatric Dentistry.   May 1, 2003. Pediatrics,

American Academy of Pediatrics, Section on Pediatric Dentistry and Oral Health.  Dec. 1, 2008. Pediatrics,

American Dental Association: "Common Mouth Sores," "Good Oral Health Practices Should Begin in Infancy."

Medicinenet.com: "Thrush and Other Yeast Infections in Children."

American Academy of Pediatrics: "What is the best way to take care of a young child's teeth?"

Reviewed by Michael Friedman on July 31, 2017

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