when to start brushing baby or toddler teeth

Dental care

tips for babies & toddlers

Guide to brushing baby & toddler teeth

Babies, and especially toddlers, can be very resistent and squirmy when it comes to brushing their teeth. It's normal. Don't let it stress you out or discourage you from brushing. Just keep at it! Your goal is to start building good dental hygiene habits by getting your baby comfortable with the toothbrush and establishing a routine.


When and how to start brushing? As soon as your child’s first tooth comes in! Use a soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head, preferably one designed specifically for infants, and just a tiny smear of toothpaste twice daily.

Fluoride or fluoride-free toothpaste? For decades, the ADA recommended using fluoride-free toothpaste for children under 2, but these guidelines changed several years ago to recommend that children begin using fluoride toothpaste from the beginning. This shift in guidance was driven by a rising number of cavities in even the youngest children. Some doctors and dentists still advise holding off on fluoride a bit longer though, so your best bet may be to start with fluoride-free and switch to fluoride once your pediatric dentist or pediatrician recommends it.

When to take your child to the dentist? Official guidance is to make your first visit when the first tooth appears or around your child’s first birthday. If this feels early to you (it does for many parents!), you're probably okay to wait a bit longer as long as you're keeping up good, consistent dental hygiene at home.


Start early and be consistant! It's generally easiest to establish habits the sooner you start

Brush your teeth in front of your baby even before their teeth come in to familiarize them with the process and encourage them to want theirs brushed too

Let your child “brush” their own teeth first, then take turns so you brush next

Let your child “brush” their favorite stuffed animal’s teeth (without toothpaste of course) while you brush your child's teeth

Give your child a second toothbrush or something else to hold in their hand and distract them while you brush their teeth with another toothbrush

Put on a fun song that you only play while brushing teeth

Brush as quickly as you can (don’t prolong it if they’re not enjoying it)

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