What age to start brushing children's teeth?

At what age should parents start brushing their children's teeth? I have a thirteen month old son who drinks milk and juices from a cup throughout the day. Should I be concerned about tooth decay? My son has 13 teeth and is cutting three more molars.


Parents should start brushing their children's teeth as soon as they appear in their mouth. It is also a good idea to use a clean finger or damp cloth to wipe a child's gums before teeth even appear. Flossing should be started after two teeth have erupted next to each other to prevent cavities between these teeth. Flossing is especially important for the molars as they are generally closer to each other than the front teeth. Oral hygiene becomes more important for children who drink a lot of juices and eat more sweet items.

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and a very small pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Milk and juice during the day are fine if you are brushing your son's teeth 2-3 times per day. Do not send your son to bed with a bottle of anything other than water.

As long as teeth are present, tooth decay is a concern. Sometimes brushing and flossing a child's teeth can be a battle of wills. Deciduous (baby) teeth play a very important role in child development and they should be given proper attention and care.

Need Advice?
Get answers from iVillage experts and other moms just like you!
Question Details
  1. Pick a subject:
Connect with 1,039,394 members just like you
Share your knowledge, ask questions.