Once they are two years old, you can switch to fluoridated toothpastes and choose products that are specifically designed to meet children's age-appropriate needs, whether it's dentition — the formation of their teeth and jaw — or dexterity, their ability to grasp and guide the toothbrush.
As more and more teeth come in to the point that they start touching, Krol recommends flossing — not against the gums but where the teeth meet — regularly.
3. Make it routine.
"When I was a kid, my mom would tell me to wash up, and I'd go into the bathroom, run some water on my hands for a few seconds, and run out," admits Krol, who believes that making the process a ritual will help it become a habit into adulthood. "Don't assume kids are doing a good job. As they get older, parents should continue to observe them brush their teeth."
Krol says that ideally, children should brush after every meal or, at the least, twice a day — after breakfast and before bed.
The hardest part? Spending two whole minutes brushing.
"I wonder how many adults actually pass that test," Lunden says. "I only became more aware of it when I started timing it out for the kids, and my husband and I both said, 'I don't think we really did this!'"
4. Have fun.
If you make brushing your teeth feel like a chore, they'll look forward to it as much as they do clearing the table. Lunden believes brushing as a family can bring on the fun. "Kids enjoy trying to be like Mommy and Daddy," she says. "What works is if you do something with them, whether it's singing a song or telling a story. They've even got toothbrushes that play music for two minutes. And you name the color, name the character — I don't care if they like Superman or Bugs Bunny or Barbie or Sponge Bob — it's out there."