Care of Your Child's Teeth
Brush your childs' teeth daily as soon as the child's first tooth appears in the mouth. Use water or a "training toothpaste" until your child sees the dentist for their first visit. This should be at the first birthday or 6 months after the first tooth comes in. Until about age seven parents need to assist the children with their brushing. Your dentist can help you determine whether the child has the skill level to brush properly. After age seven the parent should supervise brushing.
Proper brushing removes plaque from the inner, outer and chewing surfaces. When teaching children to brush, place toothbrush at a 45 degree angle; start along gum line with a soft bristle brush in a gentle circular motion. Brush the outer surfaces of each tooth, upper and lower. Repeat the same method on the inside surfaces and chewing surfaces of all the teeth. Finish by brushing the tongue to help freshen breath and remove bacteria.
Flossing removes plaque between the teeth where a toothbrush can't reach. Flossing should begin when any two teeth touch. You should floss the child's teeth until he or she can do it alone. Use about 18 inches of floss, winding most of it around the middle fingers of both hands. Hold the floss lightly between the thumbs and forefingers. Use a gentle, back-and-forth motion to guide the floss between the teeth. Curve the floss into a C-shape and slide it into the space between the gum and tooth until you feel resistance. Gently scrape the floss against the side of the tooth. Repeat this procedure on each tooth. Don't forget the backs of the last four teeth. Hand held flossers for younger children can make it easier for them to "help" flossing, before the transition to using regular floss.