At this age children can start brushing their teeth on their own, but they still need help. Use “checking for sugar bugs” as an excuse to assist with brushing thoroughly in the morning and before bed, says Bertone. If you haven’t already started, start using fluoride toothpaste and up the amount to pea-sized if your child can spit well. Remember to regularly check the teeth along the gum line for white, chalky lines or discoloured areas that could indicate tooth decay.
“When all their teeth are in — and if their teeth are touching — introduce flossing,” says Bertone. Parents will need to do the flossing; try a floss pick (also called flossers).
Finally, be mindful of kids’ snacking: avoid sugary treats and sticky fruit skins and stick to water between meals.
A version of this article appeared in our April 2012 issue with the headline: Million Dollar Smile (p. 101). See more from this article in our Oral Care guide.