Using a soft bristle brush, begin daily brushing as soon as the child’s first tooth erupts.
The ADA recommends using a smear of fluoridated toothpaste when brushing your child's teeth as soon as children's teeth begin to come into the mouth. A pea sized amount of fluoride toothpaste should then be used for ages 3 to 6 years old.
By age 4 or 5, children should be able to brush their own teeth twice a day with adult supervision. Supervision should continue until about age eight to make sure they are doing a thorough job. However, each child is different and your dentist can help you determine whether the child has the skill level to brush properly.
Proper brushing removes plaque from the inner, outer and chewing surfaces of teeth. When teaching children to brush, place toothbrush at a 45 degree angle and start along the gum line in a gentle circular motion. Brush the outer surfaces of each tooth, upper and lower. Repeat the same method on the inside surfaces and chewing surfaces of all the teeth. Finish by brushing the tongue to help freshen breath and remove bacteria.
Flossing removes plaque between the teeth where a toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing should begin when any two teeth touch. You should floss the child’s teeth until he or she can do it alone without bruising the gum tissue. Use about 18 inches of floss, winding most of it around the middle fingers of both hands. Hold the floss lightly between the thumbs and forefingers. Use a gentle, back-and-forth motion to guide the floss between the teeth. Curve the floss into a C-shape and slide it into the space between the gum and tooth until you feel resistance. Gently scrape the floss against the side of the tooth. Repeat this procedure on each tooth. Don’t forget the backs of the last four teeth!