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How to brush your child's teeth

Adults need to brush their children’s teeth as children under the age of seven or eight are too young to brush properly. It is also important to be a good role model and have your children see you brush and floss daily.

How can you properly brush your child's teeth?

  • Brush the teeth with fluoride toothpaste two times a day, as soon as teeth erupt
  • Use a small, soft toothbrush
  • Pull the lip and cheek aside with a clean finger to see better
  • Brush where the teeth and gums meet
  • Use small back and forth movements
  • Brush the inside, the outside and the top of the teeth
Visit a dental professional to learn when to start flossing and to get more information on mouth care.

How much fluoride toothpaste should be used?

Fluoride is a proven way to strengthen teeth for all ages.  It is a mineral that occurs naturally in some private water systems and wells. There is no fluoride added to the Vancouver Coastal Health water supply, so fluoride toothpaste is recommended as soon as teeth come into the mouth.
  • Children under 3 years old should have their teeth brushed with a rice grain sized amount of fluoride toothpaste
  • Children over 3 years old should have their teeth brushed with a pea-sized amount.

Tips for brushing your child's teeth:

  • Wipe baby's gums with a damp cloth daily before teeth come in
  • When baby's teeth start to appear, brush with a toothbrush
  • Make brushing part of a daily routine
  • Let children choose a favourite small, soft toothbrush to use
  • Find a flavour of fluoride toothpaste that your child likes
  • Sing a song, tell a story or play music while brushing
  • Praise your child for letting you brush for them
  • Let children practice brushing on their own but always have an adult finish brushing

Healthy eating habits for healthy teeth

  • Healthy eating habits help keep your child's teeth healthier. Sipping drinks and eating all day long may cause tooth decay.
  • Teach children to use an open cup as soon as they can hold their head up
  • After 12 months of age, offer milk and limited juice from the cup when your child is sitting and eating meals or snacks
  • Offer water when your child is thirsty between meals and snacks
  • Offer children three meals and two to three planned healthy snacks a day
  • Follow Canada’s Food Guide

Taking your child to the dentist

Take your child to see the dentist by 12 months of age. Regular dental check-ups can help prevent tooth decay.

What are dental sealants?

Dental sealants are coatings placed in the grooves of the back teeth to prevent tooth decay. Ask your dentist about dental sealants for your child.

Healthy baby teeth lead to healthy adult teeth

  • Some children lose their first baby tooth around age five or six
  • Some baby molars do not fall out until about age 12
  • Permanent first molars come in around age six before baby molars fall out
  • Tooth decay in baby teeth may spread to adult teeth

Translated child dental health information

Infants & toddlers

Infants and toddlers - Chinese
Infants and toddlers - Korean
Infants and toddlers - Farsi
Infants and toddlers - Punjabi
Infants and toddlers - Spanish
Infants and toddlers - Tagalog
Infants and toddlers - Vietnamese

Children who are 3 to 6 years old

Three to six years old - Chinese
Three to six years old - Farsi
Three to six y ears old - Punjabi
Three to six years old - Vietnamese
Three to six years old - English

SOURCE: How to brush your child's teeth ( )
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