Brushing Your Toddler’s Teeth

Posted on June 11, 2023 | Hot Topics

Brushing Your Toddler’s Teeth

We all know the scenario; you’ve had a great day and you tell your toddler it’s time to brush their teeth but then everything comes crashing down. There’s crying and running from the bathroom, and a toddler’s favorite word “no.” You’re experiencing the toddler teeth brushing struggle. 

Brushing your toddlers teeth is likely not your favorite activity, or your toddler’s favorite either. But brushing your child’s teeth at this early stage is very important to their overall health and development; just as important as healthy food, connection, and activity. While kids may not initially be enthusiastic about brushing, it’s still necessary, just like diaper changes!!

At Blossom Pediatric Dentistry, we encourage learning how to brush your toddler’s teeth well so that you can set them up with good oral hygiene habits. Here are some helpful tricks to brushing your toddler’s teeth with less resistance and more fun! 

Positioning Your Toddler To Brush Their Teeth

Positioning your toddler to brush their teeth depends on what is most comfortable for both you and them; it could be sitting, standing, or upside down. This may even be a different position than when they were a baby. 

Using a position that keeps your toddler from wiggling around but still allows them to feel independent will be beneficial. Also, make sure that whatever position you choose allows you to have both hands free. You’ll need one to hold the toothbrush and one to pull their lips back to see and reach their teeth better. 

Here are some helpful ideas on how to position your toddler that will make them feel relaxed, independent, and entertained:

Sitting on the Floor or Sofa

Have your toddler sit in front of you as you both relax on the sofa or the floor. You could also have your toddler lay their head in your lap. Brushing teeth doesn’t always have to happen in the bathroom! This is Dr. Barber’s go-to strategy at home!

Kneeling Behind Your Toddler

Have your child stand in front of you as you kneel or crouch behind them. Having them stand in front of a mirror might keep them entertained as they watch what is happening. You’ll want to reach around them like a hug and brush with one hand while lifting their lips with the other as needed. Your free hand can also be useful in reassuring your toddler by holding them around their stomach, stroking their hair or even holding their hair.

Knee-to-Knee Cradle

Sometimes brushing your toddler’s teeth needs extra recruitment. 

Start by sitting knee-to-knee with another person. Have your toddler sit in your lap like they’re giving you a hug. Lay them down on their back so their head rests on the other person’s lap. This person can brush your toddler’s teeth while you keep them calm and comfortable. Or reverse the roles if your child has a preference who does the brushing. This is what is typically done for toddler cleaning appointments at Blossom!

Making Brushing Teeth A Fun Activity For Kids

Using a children’s toothbrush can make the experience more fun and playful. Many of the toddler-sized, soft bristled toothbrushes come in all sorts of child friendly themes, or include lights, sounds, or suction cups on the bottom. Make a special trip to the store and let your toddler choose their own toothbrush so it feels exciting. 

Brushing your kids’ teeth does not need to take a full two minutes. You can make the time pass quickly by singing silly songs, talking through what you’re doing, setting a timer, or playing music. 

Brushing Techniques

Now that you’ve figured out the best brushing position and have acquired your kid friendly toothbrush, let’s chat about the best brushing technique. 

It is best to use short, back and forth motions or making small circles on the surfaces of your child’s teeth and to brush at a 45-degree angle. Remember, it’s also important to brush your child’s tongue, inside their cheeks, and the roof of their mouth. 

As for toothpaste, you only need a rice grain sized amount of fluoride toothpaste for brushing your child’s teeth up to 2 years old. For children older than two, a pea sized amount of fluoride toothpaste is all you’ll need. 

Flossing Your Child’s Teeth

Now that you’ve conquered brushing your toddler’s teeth, you’ll want to floss their teeth. Flossing is just as important as brushing when it comes to oral hygiene for kids. 

Here’s how to floss their teeth:

      1. Take a piece of floss similar in length to your child’s arm.
      2. Wrap the floss around your two middle fingers with about 2” of floss between your fingers. 
      3. Then use your index fingers to guide the floss up and down in-between your child’s teeth. 

If that is too difficult, you can try the floss picks that are made specifically for kids. Help your toddler try flossing their own teeth with the picks to make it fun and help them learn the importance of their oral hygiene. Then go over their teeth again if needed. 

Learn With Your Toddler

Watching a short video of kids brushing teeth or renting a book from the library about brushing teeth might help to get your toddler more excited about brushing their teeth. 

You’re now ready and armed with the basics of how to make toddler teeth brushing manageable and fun! However, you don’t have to tackle their oral care alone. Blossom Pediatric Dentistry is a great resource to you and your child. Don’t hesitate to contact us today with any questions you may have or to set up an appointment for your child.

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