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Oral Hygiene Recommendations

Advancement in the speciality of Paediatric Dentistry


  • You should introduce an oral hygiene routine to your baby early by cleaning their mouth and gums with a soft cloth
  • An adult should clean children’s teeth from when the first tooth erupts (about 6 months of age) to 17 month of age, with a soft child-size toothbrush and plain water (without using toothpaste).
  • From 18 months of age to 5 years old, teeth are cleaned using pea-sized smear of child-strength fluoridated toothpaste, twice daily and by an adult.  Children are encouraged to spit and not swallow or rinse.
  • From 6 years of age, teeth are cleaned using adult-strength fluoridated toothpaste, twice daily and by an adult. Children are encouraged to spit and not swallow or rinse.
  • Daily flossing of children’s teeth should begin once their teeth touch each other (about 2 and half years old).


  • Teeth are brushed twice a day (morning or evening).
  • An adult should perform their child’s oral hygiene routine until atleast 5 years old.
  • Start teaching children to brush and floss their own teeth by 5 years old, but still supervise their oral hygiene routine.
  • Oral hygiene routine should be a combined effort (adult and child) until 8 years old.

How to brush teeth

  • Position your child, so you can see their teeth easily, either sitting your child on your lap, or standing behind your child with head tilted backwards.
  • Use a soft small child-size toothbrush.
  • Smear a pea-size amount of age appropriate fluoridated toothpaste over the toothbrush.
  • Place the toothbrush along the gum line, and brush in a circular motion to clean all tooth surfaces.
  • Avoid a side-to-side scrubbing motion, as this motion can damage teeth and gums
  • Encourage spitting (not swallowing) the toothpaste.
  • Replace the toothbrush every 3 months or when the bristles are frayed.

How to floss teeth

  • Use floss to gently slide in between teeth, and be careful not to “snap” the floss through the teeth
  • Slide the floss up and down the side of each tooth
  • After flossing, rinse with water, then start brushing teeth
  • Floss holders may make flossing easier

How to encourage oral hygiene

  • Make it fun- play their favourite song in the background
  • Give younger children a toothbrush as a toy
  • Set a good example, as children like to imitate their parents.
  • Use an egg timer to ensure children brush their teeth for an adequate time (approximately 2 minutes)
  • Use a reward system to encourage older children to brush their teeth
  • Battery-operated toothbrushes may add a novelty factor and encourage brushing

Other resources or more advice

  • Your dentist or oral health profession
  • Public community dental clinic
  • Australian Dental Association
  • Better Health Channel
  • ARCPOH (Spencer AJ), The Use of fluorides in Australia: Guidelines. Aust Dent 2006;51(2): 195-199