Toddler tooth brushing = kicking screaming with mouth clamped shut.
But like all things with kids, they are very teachable. Make it a habit and it will stick.
- Twice a day, 2 minutes each time. Start with bedtime. Then introduce wake up time later.
- Training toothpaste/fluoride free toothpaste until your child stops swallowing toothpaste.
- American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends using toothpaste the size of a grain of rice for children under 3 and the size of a pea for children 3-6 years.
- Use soft-bristled toothbrush.
- All surfaces of the teeth need to be brushed.
- Teach your kid how to rinse and spit. Practice. Practice. Practice.
- Light brushing is sufficient to remove plaque. Aggressive scrubbing is not good for teeth and gum.
- Dentist visit within 6 months of first tooth eruption.
- This Guide from American Academy of Pediatrics is pretty awesome.
HOW TO MAKE THINGS FUN
- Do not do this when your kid is cranky. So if your kid is exhausted by the time shower is done, do it before shower.
- Lead by example: you, cheerfully brushing your teeth. Just like the commercials.
- Let him/her brush your teeth. It is super awkward with little fingers jabbing at your tonsils. Some people swear by simultaneously brushing the kiddo’s teeth while he/she brushes yours. My toddler was not fooled by this, unfortunately. But he was hugely entertained by brushing my teeth.
- Let them brush a doll with teeth. I let my kid walk around with a toothbrush like a toy so he goes around brushing everyone’s teeth.
- Run toothbrush under warm water. No one likes cold water on their teeth.
- Let your kid brush his/her own teeth, with your help at the end.
- Read books about tooth brushing.
- Use a fun toothbrush. This is key, folks. Get one that lights up, have music, do something….. Electric toothbrush actually works better. Easier on you and it is intriguing to toddlers.
- Brush to his/her favorite song.
- Negotiate. Can I brush 1 tooth? Then cheer like your favorite team won World Cup. Do the wave. Just.act.like.this.is.the.shit. Your kid is probably beaming (or really confused) by now. Then ask, can I brush one more? And repeat. This worked brilliantly for me.
- Let them participate. My kid likes squeezing things out of tubes, so he is more than happy to squeeze out toothpaste.
- If toothpaste is gross to them, use water. It is more important to brush and rinse.
- Reward. Stickers, books, favorites toys etc. Just don’t reward with a cookie.
May their teeth stay pearly until the tooth fairy gets them.