Article at a Glance
- It’s important to start an oral care routine from infancy. Even though your baby may not have teeth, bacteria can still build up in their mouth.
- When you start an oral care routine at a young age, it becomes a part of your child’s life long term and teaches good habits they can carry into adulthood.
- Brushing toddler teeth is not so different from brushing your own, but make sure you’re doing it right, so they learn proper techniques.
- Your child can use an electric toothbrush starting at 2 years old, as long as you are supervising.
- Be sure your child is seen by a dentist between six months and a year old.
Routines are a regular part of parenting, especially for younger children. Developing an oral care routine is an important part of daily life. It may seem like one more challenge but brushing toddler teeth is important to help your child keep a healthy smile for their whole life.
When Should I Start Brushing My Child’s Teeth?
Children are born with 20 primary teeth. Though most babies don’t start cutting teeth until they are at least a few months old, the teeth are there beneath their gums. Bacteria can build up on their gums even if your child isn’t teething yet. Use a clean, damp washcloth to stop the build-up of bacteria by gently massaging their gums.
As your child matures and more teeth become present, you can teach them how to be responsible for their own oral hygiene. Engaging your toddler in their oral care routine may be a challenge, but there are many ways to ease the transition for you and your child.
- Allow your child to choose their own toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Take turns brushing their teeth and maybe let them try brushing yours.
- Try brushing along with your kiddo to demonstrate good habits.
- Sing a silly song to ensure your child is brushing long enough.
How to Brush Toddler Teeth
Brushing toddler teeth is very similar to brushing your own teeth. It’s just as important to brush all of the surfaces including the gums and tongue. Make sure you use proper techniques so they learn the right way to care for their teeth and can eventually take over the teeth brushing ritual!
- Use a clean, soft bristled toothbrush and a small amount of fluoride toothpaste. A good rule of thumb on the amount of toothpaste is about the size of a grain of rice from 18 months to three years of age and the size of a pea starting around age three.
- Make sure your child is comfortable and facing you. Tilt their head back just slightly to allow you to see their entire mouth.
- Brush at an angle using a consistent circular motion. Work along the outside of the teeth and gums and then the inside.
- Remember to have your child spit the toothpaste out. This is also a great way to have some fun with teeth brushing.
- When your child’s teeth begin to touch, it’s time to introduce flossing once per day.
- Once your child starts brushing on their own, watch for red, swollen gums or a furry, white film over teeth. Both signs they are not brushing correctly.
Only you can decide when it’s time to let your child brush their own teeth. Make sure you remain engaged in the process to ensure your kiddo is properly caring for their teeth. Offer encouragement as they gain independence.
What is the Best Toothbrush for Kids?
Choosing a toothbrush may be a challenge with so many options available. Initially, your toddler may be satisfied with a favorite color or character. As long as it’s a soft-bristled toothbrush, you should be fine.
What about electric toothbrushes? Maybe you use an electric toothbrush and your child has noticed the difference between your toothbrush and theirs. Or, maybe they noticed their favorite character on a light-up, electric toothbrush at the store. Either way, you are probably wondering when an electric toothbrush is okay for your child.
Electric toothbrushes can be introduced at age 2 as long as you supervise. When shopping for an electric toothbrush for your child, there are four main things to consider.
- Is the toothbrush able to remove plaque from your child’s teeth?
- Is the size and shape of the toothbrush appropriate for your child’s mouth?
- Are the bristles high quality? Cheaper bristles can wear faster and do a poor job or become sharp enough to scratch the enamel.
- How is the toothbrush powered? Does it use batteries or recharge on a base? Rechargeable toothbrushes tend to be higher quality.
When Should I Take My Child to a Dentist?
Brush your child’s teeth and gums until they develop the skills to brush on their own. Given that pediatric dental disease is the #1 chronic childhood illness in America, it’s also important to have your child seen by a dentist sometime between six months and a year old. Your child should visit their pediatric dentist every six months for a check-up and professional cleaning to ensure there are no problems.
If you’re looking for a pediatric dentist for your child or they are due for a check-up and professional cleaning, contact The Smile Center clinic nearest you. Our kind, child-friendly professionals are ready to help!