While the first visit to the dentist is a wonderful start to a lifetime of great dental health, the everyday maintenance between visits will solidify your child’s good habits even before their permanent teeth arrive. We drilled Dr. Cheek of Leap Kids Dental and Dr. Jones of Small Bites Pediatric Dentistry and they delivered with some great tips for brushing and flossing. 

Brushing Tips

  • Use Positive Reinforcement: Try a sticker chart to keep track of great brushing. 

  • Make it a Game: Add an element of fun to the routine. For example, see who can brush the longest. 

  • Find the Best Timer for Your Kid: Two minutes can seem like an eternity for a kid, so find a way to time each brushing session that appeals to your kid like a song, sand timer or app. Still stumped? See our Parent Chat feature for more amazing ideas from fellow readers!

  • The Best Brushes for Kids: Find brushes that have small heads and soft bristles.

  • The Best Toothpaste for Kids: Dr. Jones recommends, “For kids under three years old, a small smear of toothpaste is all that you need. Over three years, just a pea size will do the trick. The brand of toothpaste does not matter all that much, just be sure to use fluoridated.”

Flossing Tips

  • Start When Teeth are Touching: When your kid’s teeth touch or you can’t see between them, it’s time to introduce flossing. According to Dr. Jones “Kids should start flossing somewhere around age 3. Typically that is when kids have all 20 baby teeth and when their first and second molars begin to contact in the back of their mouths.”

  • Use Easy Tools First: Kids will often respond better to floss picks or water picks right when you introduce this habit into their daily routine.

  • Switch to Traditional Floss: Dr. Cheek still encourages shifting to traditional floss as your child gets older. 

According to Dr. Jones, “Oral health plays an important role in the overall health of our children, and dental pain is one of the biggest reasons kids miss school. And, decay can occur and advance quickly in a year's time. Visiting the dentist every 6 months is the best thing you can do to stay ahead of dental health challenges.” Regular dental visits, a healthy and tooth-friendly diet (check out our after-snack school feature for more on that) and everyday maintenance are key to supporting room-brightening smiles for years to come.