Cleaning Your Kids’ Teeth
By Mina Levi, DDS, 04/16/2015

We all know that many babies are born without teeth, and they slowly emerge throughout infancy and childhood, then they sprout their adult teeth in later childhood. However, many of us don’t know when we should start or how to go about keeping our kid’s mouths healthy and clean. In this week’s article, Dentist San Francisco Mina Levi DDS discusses the process of cleaning your kids’ teeth so that they can have healthy mouths and won’t have any cavities.

Brushing Kids Teeth San Francisco Dentist

When should I start brushing my kids’ teeth?
Before your child’s teeth emerge, you should be taking care of their gums by rubbing a ramp washcloth or gauze across gum tissue to clear the mouth of any food/bacteria and starts healthy oral care habits. Children’s teeth should be cleaned as soon as they emerge. When the teeth first appear, the teeth are small and the child’s mouth is small, so it seems it would be difficult to clean or at least get a toothbrush in there. You can use a soft washcloth wrapped around your finger instead of a brush when the teeth first appear. When you do try to start using a toothbrush as soon as you can, you can try a long-handled toothbrush that you and the baby can grasp or a finger puppet type toothbrush that will be similar to the washcloth. There is no need to use toothpaste right away, just dip the toothbrush in warm water. If your child is having trouble adapting to the toothbrush, it’s okay to switch back and forth to the washcloth.

How do I brush my kids’ teeth?
When a few more teeth appear, it will be time to upgrade your child to using toothpaste. The American Dental Association recommends using fluoridated toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice. Fluoride is important for children because it helps their developing teeth be resistant to cavities. Brush your child’s teeth twice per day – once in the morning and once before bed time. Spend 2 minutes brushing and make sure to spend extra time on the back molars when they appear. The molars are an area where cleaning isn’t always great and cavities begin to appear. You can start using a pea sized amount of toothpaste when the child is about 3 years old.

When should I start flossing my kids’ teeth?
You should start flossing your child’s teeth when two teeth emerge that are touching each other. You can use flossers or floss sticks instead of traditional floss which may make it easier to navigate your child’s small mouth without them gagging.

When should my kids start brushing and flossing on their own?
Most kids start being able to brush and floss their own teeth by the time they are around 6 or 7. The best way to teach kids how to brush and floss on their own is to “lead by example”. Let your kids watch you brush your teeth. This teaches them that an oral hygiene routine is important and they will also pick up on your technique.

When should I take my kids to the dentist?
Kids should start going to the dentist by the time they are one year old, or within six months of their first tooth emergence. Your San Francisco Dentist can inspect the teeth for any irregularities and also give you tips about how to brush your kids’ teeth and diet changes.
If you have questions about how to brush your children’s teeth or your kids are due for a dentist visit, visit San Francisco Dentist Mina Levi, DDS on the web at or give us a call at (415) 513-5066.