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Brushing a Child's Teeth

Topic Overview

Clean your baby's mouth and gums with a soft cloth or gauze pad. When your child's first teeth come in, continue cleaning them with a soft cloth or gauze pad.1 As more teeth come in, clean teeth with a soft toothbrush. Because too much fluoride can be toxic and can stain a child's teeth, ask your doctor or dentist if it's okay to use fluoride toothpaste.

Brush your child's teeth twice a day. When your doctor or dentist says it's okay, use a dab of fluoride toothpaste about the size of a rice grain for children younger than 3 or about the size of a green pea for children older than 3.2 Brush your child's teeth from behind.

  • Kneel down behind your child and have him or her stand between your knees, facing away from you.
  • With one hand, gently press your child's head against your chest.
  • With the other hand, brush his or her teeth. You may also push away the upper and lower lips to make it easier to get to the teeth.
  • Pay special attention to where the teeth meet the gums.

Related Information



  1. Health Canada (2009). Caring for your teeth and mouth: Children. Available online:
  2. Canadian Dental Association (2003, revised 2012). CDA position on use of fluorides in caries prevention. Available online:


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerArden Christen, DDS, MSD, MA, FACD - Dentistry

Current as ofJuly 15, 2014