Brushing Your Toddler’s Teeth

How to set the stage for a lifetime of good dental hygiene.

At the end of a hectic day, the last thing you want to do is worry about helping your toddler brush his teeth. Developing a routine for morning and evening, will help set the stage for a cavity free mouth and make it a fun time with your child. Like reading a book before bed, your child will look forward to that time in the evening. Here are some tips to make it easier to brush your toddler’s teeth.

Brush Twice Per Day

Brushing both in the morning and evening is important. It is really important to brush right before bed. In the morning, good times are after breakfast or before your child’s nap. If your child stays with a childcare provider, make sure you allow enough time to brush your child’s teeth before you leave. You might also opt to put together a fun toothbrush kit to stay with your childcare provider.

Your Child’s First Toothbrush

Make an adventure for the purchase of your child’s first toothbrush. Let your child pick a character-themed soft brush. A toothbrush with a rotating head is a good idea for your child’s tooth and gum health. Purchase some fluoride toothpaste in a fun flavor to make your child’s tooth brushing experience even more enjoyable.

How Much Toothpaste is Needed?

  • For children 2 and under use no more than a grain of rice of fluoride toothpaste.
  • For children 3-6 use no more than a pea size amount of fluoride toothpaste and be sure and practice spitting out the toothpaste.
  • Floss your child’s teeth with string floss or floss sticks/flossers at least once daily.

Fun Ideas for Making Tooth Brushing Easier

  • Let your child turn the water on.
  • Sing songs with your child while brushing their teeth (ABC’s twice through) and involve them in counting their teeth and checking for hidden sugar bugs!
  • Allowing them a turn to learn to brush after they have had their teeth brushed by an adult.
  • For really small children, lying the child down in the floor is a good way to gain better access to the mouth.  You will also have better control of your child if they are already laying down.
  • Involve your child’s older siblings and allow them to help your child establish a good routine.

Encouraging and establishing good oral hygiene habits early on can help provide a cavity free mouth throughout childhood.

 

Elizabeth Cook Miller, D.D.S., M.S. is a pediatric dentist at Atkins, Maestrello, Miller & Associates Pediatric Dentistry in Richmond, VA. She is a new mother, active runner and her favorite movie is "Finding Nemo".

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