• Toddlers can and should be encouraged to help brush their teeth as soon as they can hold a brush.  Have fun!
  • Parents should brush preschoolers’ teeth and supervise the brushing for school-age children until they are 7 to 8 years of age (about the same time they can tie their own shoelaces or write in cursive).
  • Choose a toothbrush designed for children’s smaller hands and mouths. Look for large handles that help children control the toothbrush.
  • The best toothbrushes have soft, round-ended (polished) bristles that clean while being gentle on the gums.  Remember to throw out a toothbrush after 3 months or sooner if the bristles are fraying. Frayed bristles can harm the gums and are not as effective in cleaning teeth.
  • The best times to brush are after breakfast and before bed.
  • The child should use toothpaste with fluoride and the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance. Young children, especially preschool-aged children, should not swallow any toothpaste. Careful supervision is encouraged.
  • For children under 2-years-old, use a smear of fluoridated toothpaste. For those 2 to 5 years old, a small pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste on the brush is recommended. Ingesting too much fluoride can cause fluorosis of the developing teeth. Fluorosis usually is mild and appears as tiny white specks or streaks that often are unnoticeable.

    Figure 1. Comparison of a smear (left) with a pea-sized (right) amount of toothpaste.
  • When all sides of a tooth cannot be cleaned by brushing alone, it is time to begin flossing the child’s teeth.


Flossing is used to remove plaque from the areas that your toothbrush cannot reach.

You (as a parent) should floss your teeth thoroughly at least once a day. However, to calculate approximately how often we typically recommend that you floss your child’s teeth (for them), take their age in years and divide by two. This results in the minimum frequency per week. [For example, a 7-year-old should have his teeth flossed at least 3-4 times per week.]

Flossing can be tricky!  Remember that, like sports, learning something new takes PRACTICE!  Follow these flossing instructions to get started properly; contact one of our clinical staff if you have any questions or need tips on flossing your child’s teeth.

Playhouse Dental also has flossers that may help you get into your child’s small mouth and save your fingers. These are reusable!