Removing food and plaque from the teeth and gums should be done routinely as the first tooth erupts; however a cloth or soft-bristled toothbrush dampened with water is only necessary in the early stages. As your child gets older he or she can use a “training toothpaste” that is non-fluoridated up to age 3. At or around the third birthday, your child should transition to fluoridated toothpaste that is flavored especially for children when they are able to expectorate. Try to avoid minty flavors which can be perceived as “too spicy” or “burning” to your child’s tongue. When applying the toothpaste, only the bristles should be coated thinly; unlike the large, swooping ribbon of paste that is shown on commercials.