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Good dental hygiene is important for many reasons beyond a bright smile. To instill good dental habits in your child, get them started at a young age.

It’s important to keep your toddler’s teeth clean. Cavities form when the naturally occurring bacteria in your toddler’s mouth combine with sugars in the food residues left on their teeth, producing an acid that attacks tooth enamel.

When to Clean Your Toddler’s Teeth

You will need to clean your toddler’s teeth at least twice a day. After breakfast and after their evening meal are good times, but before bed is the most important time to brush a child's teeth; decay-causing bacteria are more likely to grow at night, when your child's mouth is closed for a long period of time.

How to Brush Your Toddler’s Teeth

  • Appeal to your toddler's sense of independence (only big boys and girls get to brush their own teeth), provide some toothpaste specifically designed for your child’s age, and a small, soft toothbrush, and the task may be greeted with the same enthusiasm as a new toy.
  • Use a pea-size amount of toothpaste containing fluoride.
  • Your toddler may only concentrate on the front, so remind them to get the teeth hiding in the back
  • Show them how to rinse thoroughly with water, and then carefully brush their teeth yourself, as young children usually don't get into all of the cracks and crevices. By the time your child is in Year 2 or 3, they'll be able to brush their teeth on their own.

When to Take Your Toddler to the Dentist

Now is a good time to get your toddler used to visiting the dentist every 6 months for a checkup. Do your best to make the occasion fun. If they’re nervous, sit them on your lap in the "magic" chair so the dentist can have a quick look inside their mouth.

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Tooth Care for Children

Brush up on how to care for your toddler’s teeth. BabyCenter offers advice on dental care for your toddler.

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