Brushing Your Toddler’s Teeth
Some children enjoy letting their parents brush and floss their teeth, but if you have a “fighter” who wants nothing to do with brushing, here are some helpful tips and tricks.
Let your child choose their brush
Giving your child a choice of what toothbrush they want to use can motivate them to brush their teeth and make the experience more enjoyable. A toothbrush with your child’s favorite cartoon characters is often more fun than a plain toothbrush.
Make it a routine
Brushing your child’s teeth at the same time each morning and evening makes it a part of their routine and they should get used to it. When your child knows what to expect every day, it can make it easier for you and him or her.
Have a reward on hand
If your child fights and screams through brushing, have a small toy ready to go to distract him or her when you are done. No snacks or candy, though – you just brushed their teeth! A cup of water is a good idea too.
Don’t be afraid to get in there!
Your child’s oral health is very important! Struggling for a few minutes each day to clean their teeth is easier than treating decay. It’s always worth the effort.
Steps for brushing
1. Gather your supplies
You will need a toothbrush, fluoride-free safe-to-swallow toothpaste and floss. A toy and cup of water for afterward are recommended.
2. Clear the area and have a seat on the floor
You can place a flat pillow under you for more comfort for you and your child if you don’t have carpet.
3. Lay your child down in front of you between your legs
Your child’s head should be between your thighs.
4. Place your child’s arms underneath your legs
This should not be uncomfortable for your child; do not put too much pressure on their arms.
5. Brush their teeth
Make sure you brush around the gums and by the tongue. These are areas that are often missed.
6. Floss between the teeth
Flossing is easiest when your child is lying down and their head cannot move around too much. If there is no gap between two teeth, it needs to be flossed. The most common area we see decay between the teeth is the back molars, so be sure to floss all the way in the back as well!
You did it!
Will this technique work with my older child who has special needs?
Absolutely! Laying down position is the easiest way to clean someone else’s teeth! Their head cannot move around as much as when you are standing or sitting, and it makes it easier to see inside the mouth as well so you can check for anything odd, such as canker sores or cavities.
What should I do if my child is a biter?
Protect those fingers! Some parents will take tongue depressors from the drug store, make a stack of about 6-10 and tape them together to use as a bite stick for the child to bite down on. This will help your fingers stay safe.
Can I use fluoride toothpaste for this method?
We would not recommend using fluoride toothpaste for this technique of brushing, because fluoride toothpaste needs to be spit out. We recommend using training toothpaste until your child can spit out in the sink, which requires some cooperation.
What about my infant’s teeth?
Before your child has teeth, we recommend wiping the gums with a cloth or finger brush. After your child’s first tooth appears, we recommend brushing with a soft-bristled age-appropriate toothbrush and a tiny smear of training toothpaste. You can let your child chew on and play with the toothbrush (with supervision), but make sure you brush properly as well.