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Parent’s Guide to Brushing A Toddler’s Teeth

March 1, 2021

As the saying goes “start them young” and “old habits die hard”, you must introduce to your kids the proper way of brushing their teeth as soon as their first tooth pokes through their gums. Teaching them at an early age makes brushing a habit versus a chore.

How do you brush your toddler’s teeth?
When they have their first tooth, start brushing them by using an infant-sized toothbrush damped with warm water. Up until they are a year and a half year old only you should start using toothpaste. And eventually, when they are three, you can start using floss.

You should brush their teeth until they can do it properly on their own, so you have peace of mind that their teeth are clean. Also, this helps them to learn and ensure that they do not make any mistakes when they are on their own.

Position your kid to sit or stand in front of you. Ideally, you are at their backs while their head should lean back toward you, so you get an excellent view of their whole mouth. Make sure that they are comfortable while in the position.

Put the brush gently on their teeth. Start on the bottom teeth first brushing in a circular motion. Get the insides and outsides of their top and bottom teeth. Make sure that you brush their gums too.

Your child only needs to start flossing when more teeth are growing and begin to touch each other. This usually happens around three years old. Bacteria can grow between the teeth, so it is necessary to clean them all the way.

How to make brushing more fun?
Toddlers are very unpredictable. They either eat the toothpaste, lie about brushing, and even throw a tantrum. As a parent, you should not pressure them to brush their teeth, but make it a fun experience. Here are several tips to make brushing fun.

  • Make It a Competition.
    Brushing would make a fun game for your child. If you have multiple children, have them compete amongst themselves. See who brushes their teeth the best in a set amount of time. You can also try and see who reaches the two-minute mark — the suggested brushing duration by the American Dental Association.
  • Let Them Brush Your Teeth.
    While this may be a messy and silly game, it is a fun way to motivate your child to brush their teeth. Let them brush your teeth after you brush theirs. They might think it is funny to pour toothpaste in your mouth or to brush your cheeks but let them be and have fun. Although, you should still try to make them stay on track by teaching them the proper way of brushing.
  • Brush While Listening to Music.
    Everyone should brush their teeth for two minutes. Instead of using a stopwatch, look for a song that your kid loves that is two minutes long. Make them brush their teeth to that full song. This activity promotes that brushing is fun. Singing and dancing can also be added! If you are a musically inclined family, you can create your own brushing song or create a fun tune with a guitar or a piano.
  • Brush While Listening to a Story.
    If your child loves bedtime stories, you can read them a story while they are brushing their teeth. Find a short story that will only take two minutes to read, or you can read the first half while they are brushing and the second after they’ve finished. You can also tell a story about tooth brushing. You can craft a legendary story about the Paladin Toothbrush defeating the evil Cavity King, or anything that you can come up with.
  • Use Toothbrushes and Toothpaste with their Favorite Character.
    The most powerful technique of all is to use a character toothbrush and toothpaste. Children look up to characters (cartoons or otherwise) from their favorite TV shows and movies. You can use those characters to your advantage too, you can tell them that if Bugs Bunny brushes his teeth from eating a lot of carrots, they should too.

You should start to develop a good dental health routine long before your child is old enough to spit out toothpaste. Brushing does not require a mouthful of teeth to start!

Like a lot of things in life, practice makes perfect, so it will take a lot of time and patience for your children to master their brushing routine. You will reap the benefits later in life when you see your little one all grown up with a beautiful sparkling smile. You will both be grateful for your perseverance and hard work caring for their dental health.