Sometimes when brushing toddlers teeth it can seem like you’re wrestling a small, powerful zoo animal. Unfortunately its an important task and life-long investment in their health. Despite it’s challenges toddler teeth brushing can be made more simple (and less tiresome!) with a few expert tips.
Here’s your expert guide to brushing toddlers teeth with the team from Medland Dental.
Brushing teeth is one of those chores that kids never seem to want to be getting on with. It can be hard to realise the importance of oral hygiene when you haven’t been around long enough to discover just how damaging plaque build-up and the like can be. But good oral health habits are forged in our early years, which is why it’s so important to get started with your children as soon as possible.
One of the most difficult stages of childhood to deal with in every respect is the toddler years – there’s a reason they call it the terrible two’s. But despite the difficulties, this is a critically important time to instill good habits in your children, and this includes oral health habits. Teaching good skills while overcoming the difficulties of the toddler years is no trifling matter. If getting your youngster into the bathroom with a toothbrush in hand has you at your wits end, here a few, hopefully helpful, tips.
Brushing toddlers teeth basics
Brushing a young child’s teeth requires different products and techniques than an adult’s.
- Be sure to use a fluoridated toothpaste specific to your child’s age. It is actually best to use no toothpaste at all until 18 months old. Then introduce it slowly with only a small smear of child’s toothpaste as young children will swallow the toothpaste as they are not capable of spitting it out. It is for this reason that it is important not to use an adult strength toothpaste.
- Use a soft bristled, child sized toothbrush. Children’s teeth and mouths are smaller than an adult’s, so best results will be achieved with a toothbrush made just for them.
- Teach them to use small, circular motions on the teeth, never pressing too hard.
Demonstrate teeth brushing to your toddler
Children learn to a large extent through imitation, which gives you a natural advantage in the fight against poor brushing. Since it can be difficult to see and rectify errors in technique, demonstrating the correct way to brush can help you ensure that these errors don’t occur in the first place.
Once you have a good technique down pat, remain supervising and assisting their brushing to ensure they continue with the right technique and brush for long enough.
Make toddler teeth brushing fun
Brushing teeth is a chore, but like any chore there are ways to make it less of one. A toothbrush with a fun design, in the shape of their favourite superhero for example, can make a surprising difference in how much kids look forward to brushing their teeth. Flossing as well is an essential part of oral health, and can be made more interesting with mint flavoured floss that kids won’t be able to resist using. Many children find electric toothbrushes interesting, so investing in one could help to make things more fun for them.
Another way to make tooth brushing more fun is to turn some aspects of it into a game. For example, give your kids the responsibility of making sure their favourite toy’s teeth are clean as well. Not all children will be interested in such ploys, but they can definitely work for others. Not only will children enjoy the responsibility and sense of achievement, but the practice can give you further opportunities to ensure their technique is progressing well.
Don’t fret, just keep persevering!
Children learn at different rates, and even though it’s a minor skill, tooth brushing is still something that can take time to master. If your child is having trouble picking up the basics, it’s no reason to worry. Patiently explain the mistakes they’re making and show them how to correct them. If they’re having a lot of trouble you could try splitting the tooth brushing duties: get them to do it in the morning, and take on the responsibility in the evening yourself. This way they’ll start to get a feel of how your technique is different from their own and natural improvements should gradually follow. Either way, having to overcome something of a learning curve is nothing to be concerned about.
This guide was written by Medland Dental. Find Baby Hints & Tips Community’s advice for encouraging teeth brushing here.
*This article was first published 2016 and updated with new fact sheets and links 2020.