Winnie the Pooh Brushes Too!
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends young children use a soft-bristled brush with a small head. Thankfully for parents, there are many of these toothbrushes available with beloved characters on them. So if your son is a big fan of Barney, by all means buy the toothbrush with the purple dinosaur. Older children with more manual dexterity think battery operated brushes are great.
You may have heard that it's necessary to replace adult tooth brushes every three or four months. The American Dental Association (ADA) says children's toothbrushes often need replacing even more frequently than adults' because they wear out sooner. You should also get your child a new brush after he has had a bad cold, Strep throat, or other infection.
Toothpaste isn't necessary for toddlers—and the type formulated for adults isn't healthy for kids, since a little one could swallow too much fluoride, leading to a staining of the teeth (fluorosis). The AAPD does not recommend using children's fluoridated toothpaste (unless recommended by a pediatric dentist) until your child is age two to three and able to spit the paste out. At that point, parents still need to supervise brushing and make sure the child uses no more than a pea-sized amount of paste on the brush. Until a child is ready to begin using paste, plain water is a fine alternative.
As your child gets older, she will have a better understanding of tooth decay and cavities—but until then, the job of beginning healthy dental care falls to you. So have fun and get creative with ways to brush. And don't forget to floss!