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As a parent, you may have questions similar to these: When should I begin brushing my child’s teeth? When can they begin brushing alone? Is there a right and wrong way to brush?

Don’t worry, you’re not the first parent to ask these questions. And at Vital Smiles, we’re here to answer them.

Brushing Baby Teeth

Since tooth decay can begin as soon as the first tooth erupts, brushing needs to begin then too. Brushing techniques for babies and children are very similar to each other. The main difference is the amount of toothpaste used. For babies, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends using a dab of toothpaste no larger than one grain of rice. With just a few tiny teeth, babies don’t need much! Once your child reaches the age of three, you can begin using a pea-size amount of toothpaste.

Regardless of your child’s age, the ADA recommends using fluoride toothpaste and brushing twice a day, unless your dentist or pediatrician says otherwise. For specific brushing techniques, watch this short video.

Teaching Children to Brush on Their Own

Ultimately, you as the parent should determine when your children are ready to brush on their own. The average age is six or seven, but you know your child best. To get them used to it, you can brush their teeth first, then have them try right after you. And even after you hand the toothbrush off completely, you can still continue to supervise them.

The important things your child should understand before brushing alone:

  • Use a pea-size amount of toothpaste
  • Do not swallow the toothpaste
  • Brush twice a day
  • Brush for two minutes each time

To help your kids brush well, try using Plaque HD, a toothpaste that reveals all the spots kids missed during brushing by turning their plaque green. Don’t worry, the green brushes away too. For a demonstration, watch this video by Plaque HD. The toothpaste comes in two flavors, Berry Bubble Gum and Fresh Mint. Even if your kids don’t use this toothpaste each time they brush, using it occasionally can be a good refresher course on thorough brushing. Even for parents!

From brushing songs to light-up toothbrushes that show your child how long to brush, you can find all kinds of resources for motivating your kids to brush their teeth well. But the best way to teach is by example. Instill healthy dental habits in them by brushing their teeth for them regularly and properly while they are still young. Let them see that you brush your teeth too. Maybe even brush together! After all, what kid doesn’t like to imitate his parents?

Building the brushing routine is the hardest part. But once kids settle into it, brushing just become a normal part of their day.

Armed with cartoon character toothbrushes, colorful toothpaste, and a healthy dental routine, your kids won’t give plaque a chance to mess with their teeth!