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An Age-by-Age Guide to Toothbrushing

When it comes to teeth, the earliest milestones get the most press: Many a tweet has been devoted to that first chomper. But what about later "big boy" milestones? Beverly A. Largent, D.M.D., past president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, has some suggestions:


    • 3 to 4 years: Your kid should be using fluoride toothpaste - but only a pea-size amount, and you should still be squeezing it out and brushing for him. If he's raring to take over, "let him do the 'important' second pass," suggests Largent. Introduce flossing as soon as two of his teeth are touching.



    • 4 to 5 years: Brush together, and use a plaque-revealing rinse to double-check each other's work.



  • 5 to 6 years: When are you off the hook? "When the child can tie his shoes or print his name," says Largent. Then he'll be able to dole out his own toothpaste. Phew!