Toddlers are like tornadoes, right? Add an appointment to your family dentist, and kids’ unpredictable energy can be a stressor for parents.
We do everything we can to make pediatric appointments smooth – but of course we know you have challenges at home too. Getting your toddler to enjoy brushing their teeth twice a day for two minutes is difficult – but before you throw your hands up in defeat, we have some simple strategies to make brushing FUN.
What works for one child may not work for every child, but here are our 4 tips and product picks to help you establish healthy oral hygiene habits:
#1 Find a cool toothbrush
Every kid needs a toothbrush that they’re excited about, so get them involved in the selection. Whether you make a special trip to the store our shop online, make it an exciting adventure. Narrow down the search to age appropriate options then let them choose. If they choose more than one, great buy both and use them on rotation. How fun is that?
#2 Choose a fluoride toothpaste that’s yummy
The ADA recommends using a fluoride toothpaste to prevent tooth decay, but only in age proportionate amounts. From ages 0-3 use a smear (grain of rice) and from 3-6 apply the size of a pea.
#3 Find the right time and be consistent
There may never be a perfect time for tooth brushing, but try to find a time when they are relaxed and the least cranky. Children respond well to routine, so find a time in the morning and before bed and make it consistent.
Additionally, brush your teeth with them when possible and make it a family affair.
#4 Make it ridiculously FUN
Transition from reality to make-believe with a silly story or song about brushing your teeth. Play their favorite video or song (that is at least 2 minutes long) or download a tooth brushing app. Insert as much play as possible to the brushing routine to keep your tot engaged and happy.
Choosing the right toothbrush
Electric vs. manual
The best toothbrush for your toddler is the one they can use often. Electric toothbrushes can be easier and more fun, but not every child likes the vibrating sensation. Manual brushes work just as effectively as long as they use them consistently.
Size and Fit
When choosing a toothbrush, use the recommended age labels on the packaging, but keep in mind that every child’s mouth grows at a different pace. Always check that the brush head will fit over the back teeth without irritating the cheek and gum.
Look for handles that will easily fit into you and your toddler’s hands. Even though you’ll be guiding their brushing at first, you’ll want them to be able to build their dexterity by gripping the brush on their own.
Here’s 3 of our favorite brushes:
Colgate My First Baby and Toddler Toothbrush (0-2 Years)
What we love about it: cushioned oval brush head fits comfortably into a child’s small mouth. Non-slip handle fit in parents and child’s hand and center color dot helps measure the recommended amount of toothpaste.
What we love about it: gentle electric toothbrush is can be used on baby’s first teeth and grow with child until they can eventually brush on their own. Light up brush head that will help you see inside their mouth with a smart 2 min LED light timer with 30 sec pulse teaches your toddler good toothbrush habits.
Brusheez Kid’s Electric Toothbrush (3+ Years)
What we love about it: There’s so much to look at with this set that your toddler will soon forget they hate brushing their teeth. This includes a toothbrush, cover, rinse cup – along with a 2-minute sand timer.
Add fun and distraction with tooth brushing apps
There are dozens of fun interactive apps designed to help your little one develop healthy life-long oral hygiene habits. Let your toddler choose their favorite app(s) and watch them light up with delight in having some control. Here’s a few popular apps that we recommend:
For the little dragon slayer: brush their teeth for two minutes to “scrub” away the spell from the kingdom’s inhabitants that include a pirate and a dragon and even Little Red Riding Hood. Your little adventurer will love to be the hero or heroine of the story with this cool app.
For the tot who loves their tunes: this app plays 2 minutes of music from your iPad, iPod or phone to encourage proper brushing. Make a playlist of your kid’s favorite songs and let he or she’s brush their teeth to their favorite jams.
For the young Disney enthusiast: with 20+ Disney Princesses or superheroes to chose from your toddler will look forward to brushing their teeth. A timer and 30 second reminder to switch to the other side help kids brush more thoroughly. Please note that the app requires you to use a Crest or Oral-B Pro-Health product.
A little planning in the beginning is all you need to establish healthy dental routines. Don’t hesitate to ask your dental hygienist and dentist at your next appointment for more information.
Check out more post on pediatric dental care: