As soon as your child’s teeth start cutting, the important task of cleaning them is next on the agenda. However, when you’re dealing with a toddler-aged child, this isn’t always an easy or efficient task. For starters, toddlers tend to want to do everything themselves, from eating to brushing their teeth (that is, of course, if they are even willing to brush their teeth as it is).
With that being said, the first step in brushing your toddler’s teeth is first helping them recognize the importance of doing so – and doing it so that they understand that you’re the best person to help them do it. That, however, is a topic for another day. Here’s a look at toddler teeth-brushing best practices:
Choose a proper toothbrush
It all starts with the right toothbrush. For toddlers, this is a small, soft-bristled one. Be sure to use toothpaste, but only those that are specifically for children. Use only a very small amount early on (think: about the size of a grain of rice). Keep an eye on the bristles of the toothbrush too, and swap it out for a new one as soon as they appear worn or splayed.
Using the toothbrush, brush in a circular motion on all of the tooth surfaces, especially where the tooth meets the gum line. Brush gently across both the inside and the outside of the tooth surfaces. It’s important to also brush the tongue during this time.
We already told you that you should be using a small, grain of rice-sized amount of toothpaste. Once your child is old enough to spit, however, then you can up the ante on the amount of toothpaste so that it’s about the size of a pea. Usually, this occurs around or shortly after your child’s third birthday.
How often to brush
Dentists advise adults to brush their teeth at least twice per day. The same is often recommended for children – brushing twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening.
As we noted in the opening, toddlers like to do things themselves. With that in mind, just how do you manage their independence while ensuring that their teeth get cleaned well? Consider allowing them to brush their own teeth and then you “inspecting” the job they did and brushing their teeth yourself to ensure that the job was done thoroughly. Or, you could brush your teeth at the same time as your toddler and then check each other’s teeth – each of you brushing the spots that were “missed.” The bottom line is that a child isn’t likely to do an adequate brushing job until they are about seven years old, so get creative in how you handle this challenge.
Brushing your toddler’s teeth is important, as it instills in them the importance of good oral care from an early age. Just be sure that you’re handling the brushing properly. Lastly, don’t be afraid to have fun with it! For more information on how to best brush your toddler’s teeth, contact our doctors, Dr. Richard Caven, Dr. Shelby Denman, and Dr. Stephen Carpenter, by calling our Caven Dental office in Jacksonville, FL, to schedule a consultation today!