Brushing Your Toddler's Teeth: A Step-By-Step Guide
by Margie Monin Dombrowski
A 2-year-old child has a great smile — though it's not a full set of teeth just yet — and has already been to his first dentist visit. Brushing your toddler's teeth correctly now can instill a lifelong habit in your children that promotes a healthy mouth. Here's how to get into the routine with your little one.
Go Toothbrush Shopping
Why not make it a special occasion? Take your child along to pick out his first toothbrush. Let him choose a soft-bristled, character-themed toothbrush, such as a Colgate® Dora the Explorer™ Battery-Powered Toothbrush. A rotating, battery-operated toothbrush often comes in handy with squirmy or feisty toddlers. Grab a children's fluoridated toothpaste, which will help prevent childhood cavities, in your child's favorite flavor.
Set the Stage
Brushing your toddler's teeth twice a day is recommended, and timing the brushing can be crucial. To increase your chances of success, find the times when your child will be most open to the idea of brushing, such as after breakfast or before nap time. Before bedtime is a must, but don't wait until he's exhausted and cranky. Create a ritual, such as letting your child turn on the faucet or press the button on his rotating toothbrush. That way, your child will look forward to the whole process, and you're more likely to be dealing with a cooperative toddler.
Prep your child's toothbrush with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste — that's all you'll need. Next, find the most comfortable position. You may have your child stand on a step stool or sit on your lap. Start brushing the inside of the teeth first. Angle the brush toward the gum line at a 45 degree angle, and move the brush back and forth. Repeat on the outside of the teeth. Aim the brush at the gum line, and brush in the same routine again. Be sure to brush the top surfaces of the teeth too. Take breaks if your child gets cranky. Don't forget to carefully rinse your toddler's teeth and to remind him not to swallow the toothpaste. Finally, you can teach him to rinse and spit independently with proper technique.
Make It Fun
Turn brushing time into a game. Make up a silly song to go along with it. Let your child practice brushing to get the hang of it. Show him a DVD of his favorite character brushing teeth to pique his interest. Any way you can make the experience a fun one will help teach your toddler to enjoy taking care of his oral health.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.