dental hygiene. happy little girl brushing her teeth

Being a mom of two young boys, I am very aware of the exhaustion and frustration that comes along with brushing a toddler’s mouth. Even though I’m a dentist, I still get the melt downs, refusals to open, and yes a few times I have been bitten.  Daily morning and evening brushings can be daunting.  Here are a few tips that help me:

  1. Start with a routine early in the toddler’s years (age 12-18mo). Have them watch you brush and floss your teeth. Show them how to brush theirs.
  2. Let them try! As they get older and more “independent” toddlers tend to like to help. Remember toddler’s manual dexterity is not completely developed so it is important to still brush their teeth for them. My toddler likes to remind me, “I can do that all by myself”.
  3. Make it fun. Ask questions like, Can you show me how big a hippo can open? How about a lion? Use whatever animal your child may like. My little guy is still convinced a giraffe opens the biggest! Another option is to count teeth while brushing to distract them or you can pretend to wipe away “sugar bugs.”
  4. Try a special “big kid” electric toothbrush. You can also take them to the store to pick out their own toothbrush and toothpaste. Until your toddler can spit after brushing, remember to use fluoride free toothpaste.
  5. Lastly, don’t be hard on yourself if you miss one night or morning. We all have those days. As long as missing is infrequent and you get back on routine the next time, your little one will be okay.