Are you starting to notice little teeth in your toddler’s mouth? Then, it may be time to think about brushing them. But, what’s the best way to brush your child’s teeth, and how can you make the process as painless as possible?
Check out our tips on how to brush toddler teeth the right (and funny) way.
When Should You Start Brushing Your Toddler's Teeth?
While it’s true that all children get their first teeth at different stages, they typically appear between 6 and 10 months of age. By the time your child is three years old, they will most likely have all 20 of their baby teeth. You can use a toddler tooth chart to help you understand when you should expect certain teeth in the mouth to start showing from the gums.
You can start brushing your child's teeth as soon as you see teeth in their mouth; but be sure only to use water on a small, soft toothbrush until they're 18 months old. After this point, you can then begin using a small amount of low-fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a pea) when you brush your toddler's teeth.
Tips for Brushing Your Kid's Teeth
1. Make Your Child Feel Secure
Brushing teeth may be a scary experience for some children, especially since it’s so invasive. In order to lessen the blow, it’s important to make sure that your child feels safe while you're brushing their teeth. Stay close behind your child and brush in front of a mirror so that they can feel you supporting them and see what’s going on the whole time.
2. Sing While You Brush
A great way to keep your child engaged and interested in brushing their teeth is by singing a song with them. There’s a wide variety of toothbrushing songs out there, but the best is simple and engaging, while also instructing your child on what’s happening while helping them understand that this activity is called “brushing their teeth.”
3. Keep the Toothbrush Clean
After you’ve cleaned your toddler’s teeth and gums, be sure to properly clean their toothbrush by rinsing it with tap water. It should be stored in an upright position in an open container so that it can air-dry, avoiding water from remaining on the brush (which may lead to bacteria growth). Be sure to replace your child’s toothbrush every 3 to 4 months, or when you notice that the brush’s bristles are wearing down.
4. Encourage with Playtime
To positively reinforce brushing their teeth, you can encourage your child by allowing them to play with their favorite toy while you brush. This method is better suited for babies and younger toddlers, because they may need the extra distraction to stay still while you get their teeth clean. We recommend the Starsmilez Kids Tooth Brushing Buddy for this because it even comes with teeth and a brush so that you can use to help show your child how to brush their own teeth.
5. Know When To Visit the Dentist
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, your child should go to the dentist once they’re one year old, or within six months after their first tooth has emerged. Most parents don’t take their toddler to the dentist until after two years of age, but it’s important to take them at the right time to make sure everything is developing properly. If you’re dealing with toddler teeth grinding, we definitely recommend seeing the dentist on the best way to approach this issue.
The Best Toothbrushes for Toddlers and Kids
1) Baby Toddler Toothbrush
When you first introduce your toddler to brushing their teeth, you’re going to want something that can withstand their teething and keep their attention while also being an effective form of promoting good oral hygiene. A toothbrush like this Baby Toddler Toothbrush, which is brightly colored, easy to hold, and comes with parts that are perfect for chewing, is a great first toothbrush for any baby or toddler to start with.
2) Electric Toothbrush
While electric toothbrushes are nothing new to the oral care world, they continue to be an incredibly useful way to get a clean brush out of your kid’s toothbrushing sessions. If you want something that connects to Bluetooth and is rechargeable, you may want to consider the Philips Sonicare for Kids Bluetooth Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush. For those that prefer something more traditional and less complicated, a simple electric toothbrush with a fun character and an effective brush head like the Oral-B Pro-Health Jr. Battery Powered Kid’s Toothbrush may be a good choice.
3) Timer Toothbrush
A great way to help your kids learn and understand how long they should be brushing their teeth is by giving them a toothbrush with a built-in timer. These come in a variety of formats with some using a pressure sensor and coaching mechanism like the Oral-B Kids Electric Toothbrush. Others use fun songs that are the exact length of an optimal brush to encourage brushing like the Fairywill Electric Toothbrush.
The Best Toothpaste for Toddlers
1. Natural Toothpaste
The best toothpaste option for kids and toddlers would be a natural option with a mild flavor. Not only will you be avoiding the laundry list of chemical additives in typical toothpaste, but you’ll also be giving your child a toothpaste that doesn’t have too strong of a minty flavor. Our top recommendation for a mild, natural toothpaste would definitely be Tom’s Natural Toothpaste in Silly Strawberry or Orange-Mango.
2. Non-Fluoride Toothpaste
While the ADA now recommends that fluoridated toothpaste is the best option for teeth of all ages (with a smaller amount recommended for babies), it’s also the best ingredient for fighting cavities; you may still not want to use fluoride for your child’s teeth. If so, we recommend Kiss My Face Gentle Fluoride-Free Toothpaste for Kids.
Teaching the Child How to Brush
Help Them Hold the Brush
It can be awkward trying to hold a toothbrush properly for the first time, so show your child how to do it by playing copycat with them. Get your toothbrush in hand, and help guide their hand into the proper holding position for theirs. Demonstrate the forward and backward brushing motion with your brush and prompt them to do the same.
Take 2 Minutes to Brush
It’s best to make sure that your child brushes their teeth for 2 minutes straight to keep them clean and healthy. You can teach them that they need to do it for 2 minutes by giving them a song that’s around that length and telling them that it’s their toothbrushing song; they have to be brushing the whole time they listen. Sooner or later, they’ll get into the groove of brushing for 2 minutes and will understand what that amount of time feels like.
Brush With Them Twice a Day
Enforce that brushing should be part of their routine every morning and every night. By reinforcing brushing twice a day at the same time every day, they’ll fall into a routine and may even look forward to it if you’ve made it a fun part of their day. There’s nothing better than a child who looks forward to brushing!
How to Make it Fun
Toddler Brushing Teeth Video
One way to make tooth brushing fun for your toddler is by having one of their favorite characters join in on the fun to show them how it’s done! Check out this great video from Sesame Street where Elmo guides your child to brush along to the fun “Brushy Brush” song. It not only incorporates a song, but it also shows kids and adults brushing their teeth the right way (and spitting out toothpaste when it’s time).
Toddler Brush Teeth Song
Another great way to make brushing your child’s teeth fun is by singing a song with them that lasts 2 minutes, which is how long they should be brushing. One song we recommend is the “Brush Your Teeth” song by Super Simple Songs, which goes through all of the steps of brushing while encouraging that you should brush in the morning and night.
Make it Part of Their Routine
One of the most important things to establish in your child is that brushing their teeth should be a regular part of their daily routine. When they wake up, introduce brushing as something that is going to happen every single morning, just like breakfast and getting dressed. Similarly, once it’s getting time for bed, make brushing their teeth as normal and routine as taking a bath and putting on pajamas. If you add elements that make it memorable and fun, like a song or game, then they may even begin to look forward to it!