The ideal means for having a young child do daily oral hygiene is to engage the parent(s) in the process. Children cannot effectively brush their own teeth until about seven or eight years old. Effective flossing usually cannot occur until about 10-12 years of age. Younger children should be allowed to brush and then followed up with the parent thoroughly brushing and flossing the child’s teeth. It is imperative that only a small amount of toothpaste (pea sized) be placed on the toothbrush. Children often swallow toothpaste, which contributes to fluoride intake. As with any good thing, too much could be harmful.
As the children age, they can be responsible for their own oral hygiene. This includes brushing (twice daily for two minutes each time), flossing and rinsing with an anti-cavity (fluoride) mouth rinse (which should be expectorated...spit out).
Jamie to Sara and Her Parents: "Sara, I know you told me that you like to eat candy and love sweet things. As we talked about, some of that might be bad for you because it can help cause cavities or little holes in your teeth. I want to show you and your Mom and Dad how to take care of your teeth, so that you don’t get any more cavities. We are going to use this little red, cherry flavored tablet (disclosing agent). I want you to chew it up and spit it out. Then we are going to look in the mirror to see if there are sugar bugs on your teeth that we need to clear away."
They then look at it together and work on brushing the red stains off the teeth.