Home Health 7 tips to help your toddler brush their teeth with ease

7 tips to help your toddler brush their teeth with ease

by Tania Griffin

“As a parent, you understand the importance of good oral hygiene for your child’s health. However, convincing a toddler to brush their teeth can sometimes feel like an uphill battle,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

“Toddlers are known for resisting new routines, and toothbrushing is no exception. But with patience, creativity and a few strategies, you can make toothbrushing an enjoyable and stress-free activity for both you and your toddler.”

Start early and make it a routine

Toddlers typically have 20 primary teeth, also known as baby teeth or deciduous teeth. These teeth serve as placeholders for their permanent teeth, starting around the age of 6 and continuing until early adulthood. The 20 primary teeth consist of:

  • 8 incisors (front teeth)
  • 4 canines (pointy teeth)
  • 8 molars (back teeth)

The timing of when these teeth first appear can vary from child to child, but here’s a general guideline:

  1. Incisors – The lower central incisors are usually the first to come in, generally around 6 to 10 months of age, followed by the upper central incisors.
  2. Lateral incisors – These typically emerge next, around 9 to 13 months.
  3. First molars – The first molars typically appear around 13 to 19 months.
  4. Canines – Canines, or cuspids, usually emerge around 16 to 22 months.
  5. Second molars – The second molars typically appear last, around 25 to 33 months.

The key to successful toothbrushing with toddlers is to start early and establish a routine. When your child’s first tooth appears, it’s time to begin brushing. Start with a soft, age-appropriate toothbrush and water. Brushing your toddler’s teeth twice daily, ideally in the morning and before bedtime, helps create a sense of consistency and familiarity.

Lead by example

Children often mimic their parents’ behaviours. Brush your teeth alongside your toddler to show them that toothbrushing is a normal and essential part of daily life.

Choose the right toothbrush 

A small, child-sized toothbrush with soft bristles is best, as toddlers have sensitive gums. Ensure the toothbrush is made from safe, non-toxic materials (free from BPA – bisphenol-A). You can choose between a toothbrush with replaceable brush heads (electric or manual) or a traditional manual toothbrush.

Some parents prefer the convenience of replaceable heads, as they may be more cost-effective in the long run. Remember to replace your toddler’s toothbrush every three or four months or when the bristles show wear and tear.

Try different toothpaste brands

Opt for a toothpaste for toddlers with a fluoride content of 1 000 ppm (parts per million) or less. Fluoride is important for preventing tooth decay, but excessive consumption can lead to fluorosis, affecting teeth’s appearance.

Look for toothpaste flavours that your toddler will enjoy. Many toddler toothpaste options come in appealing flavours like strawberry, watermelon or bubblegum, making brushing more enjoyable.

Always use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on your toddler’s toothbrush and encourage them to spit out excess toothpaste after brushing.

Make it fun with a song or story

Create a toothbrushing song or story to make the experience more engaging for your toddler. Sing a short, catchy song while brushing, or tell a fun and imaginative toothbrushing story. Associating toothbrushing with something enjoyable can help turn it into a positive habit.

Offer choices and independence

Toddlers love to feel a sense of independence and control. Allow your child to make choices when it comes to toothbrushing. For example, let them choose which toothbrush they want or which toothpaste flavour they prefer.

Turn it into a game

Transform toothbrushing into a game to capture your toddler’s interest. Pretend their mouth is a zoo, and you’re the zookeeper cleaning the animal’s teeth. Use a timer to make it a race against the clock, challenging your child to brush until the timer beeps.

Positive reinforcement and rewards

Positive reinforcement can go a long way in motivating your toddler to brush their teeth. Use positive phrases like “Great job!” or “You’re such a good brusher!”

Consider implementing a reward system. Create a sticker chart where your toddler earns a sticker for each successful toothbrushing session. After accumulating specific stickers, they can receive a small reward, like a special treat or extra playtime.

Image credit: Freepik

You may also like

Leave a Comment