I’m excited for you! Now that your sweet baby is no longer a baby or even a toddler, it’s time to shift your tooth brushing focus just a little bit! Your preschooler has a mouth FULL of teeth and is eating all kinds of stuff. This is the age when cavities are most likely to start showing up and you have to know how to brush your preschooler’s teeth, to prevent that!
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A fun and important part of making sure you know how to brush your preschooler’s teeth is beginning to teach him how to do it on his own as well! Your preschooler does not have the dexterity to brush well by himself.
However, he needs to start learning the dexterity, so I am going to tell you how to begin to teach him to brush, and keep him cavity free, in order to prevent expensive dental surgery, all at the same time!
15 Steps For How to Brush Your Preschoolers Teeth.
- #1. Buy a soft, age-appropriate toothbrush. Look for one like this or purchase this one here. Make sure the age listed on the toothbrush matches the age of your child.
- #2. Buy fluoridated, non-minty toothpaste like this AND fluoride-free toothpaste like this. (don’t be scared of Fluoride, he needs it and I’ll tell you how to make sure he doesn’t get too much in a few minutes)
- #3. Buy these flossers.
- #4. Have a talk with your preschooler about brushing and why it’s SO important. It should sound like this, “I’m so excited about teaching you how to brush your teeth! It’s so cool and we’re going to have fun brushing your teeth so you don’t get boo-boos on them! You are going to brush first, then Mommy will take a turn brushing.”
The fun thing about this age is that he is starting to really understand life. Not only will your excitement be contagious, he knows what a boo-boo is, and won’t want one on his teeth!
When and How To Brush Your Toddler’s Teeth Correctly
- #5. Brush at bedtime, AFTER all food and snacks are done for the day, but BEFORE bedtime routine. And every morning AFTER breakfast. (if you can manage to brush after lunch as well, that’s a huge bonus!)
- #6. Place a very small amount of fluoride-free toothpaste on his toothbrush and let him brush by himself. Get a timer like this and let him brush for one minute.
- #7. PRACTICE SPITTING!!!! Yay! This is fun and important for your preschooler! Your child can get very good at this very quickly if you encourage him and have him start early.
*** this is how he will avoid getting too much fluoride as he gets older. My 3-year-old never swallows his toothpaste. I started teaching him how to spit out his baby toothpaste between 18-24 months while standing over the sink. Now he is a PRO!
- #8. Mommy’s turn! Gently but firmly hold your preschooler’s head between your non-dominant hand and your abdomen. This keeps his head from moving all over the place when you’re brushing, which will cause you to not apply the right pressure.
- #9. Hold the toothbrush in your dominant hand.
And Go For Brushing:
- #10. Brush her teeth, with a tiny amount of fluoridated toothpaste that you can barely see on the brushes, over the bathroom sink while she stands on a stool. This teeny-tiny amount of toothpaste is all you need and will make sure she doesn’t get too much fluoride.
***** If you are just now starting to brush her teeth for the first time, go back to this post here and learn how to brush with your child lying down, using non-fluoridated toothpaste. This is MUCH more effective when just starting out and will be necessary to do a good job! After 2 months of brushing while lying down, you can come back to this post and start brushing the way I am describing here.
- #11. Brush all 3 visible sides of the teeth in the following pattern:
a) brush the outside surface of the teeth while he bites his teeth together. (this is the side touching the inside of his cheeks) using up and down circular motions.
b) brush the chewing surface of his teeth using straight back and forth motions.
c) brush the inside surface of his teeth (this is the side his tongue and roof of his mouth touches) using up and down circular motions.
***I’m not a fan of timers when it comes to YOU brushing your child’s teeth. You must cover all the surfaces of the teeth, and be thorough. How long this takes, depends on a lot of things. So just be sure to do all sides, take your time, and be thorough!!
Make A Big Deal:
- #12. Speak cheerfully while brushing and tell him what you are doing. No matter how he responds, it’s important that you stay positive and keep going until you have done a thorough job!
** At this age, he should respond obediently. If not, go back and start here.
- #13. Switch to your flosser after thorough brushing is complete. Floss between any teeth that touch. Insert flosser between two teeth, gently apply pressure to one tooth and move flosser up and down, then gently apply pressure to the other tooth and move up and down.
- #14. After completing brushing and flossing, give him a clap of praise! Say, “Yay! You did it! Your teeth are all super clean! I’m so proud of you! You did a great job!” In your happiest proudest voice. This is a great time for positive reinforcement!
- #15. Your preschooler may love the entire experience and never complain. OR he may decide to throw-down. He may “throw-down” for every tooth brushing session for a year. Regardless… do it anyway! By following through and not giving in to his protest, he’ll learn that what you are doing is important and that it’s easier if he just does it.
Caving to his protests not only means a yucky mouth, but it also means, he’s being trained to get what he wants by “throwing down!”
3 Child Cavity Bad Guys
Since you now know the process for keeping your preschooler’s teeth clean, it will also be great for you to know the three worst cavity culprits, so you can be on guard for these bad guys!
1. Chips, crackers, and starchy foods will cause cavities quicker than a skittle! Water-soluble candy, like skittles, wash away with saliva, chips, do not! Anytime you give your preschooler candy OR starchy snacks, require him to sit down, eat a handful, and then be done. Do not let him munch on these things over long periods of time.
2. Juice and soda are the worst. I mean, really just. the. worst! The same rules apply here as do for chips and crackers. If you allow him to have juice or soda, sit him down, have it with a meal and that’s it. Never let him carry it around. You’ll be saying, “please, cavities, won’t you come live in my child’s mouth?” if you do.
3. Don’t let him brush on his own. He can’t do a good job. Not good enough to prevent cavities. He just can’t. Let him practice, but it’s up to you to keep his mouth healthy!
Correctly Brushing Your Child’s Teeth Is Worth It
There. Do you feel totally empowered? You should.
You can literally save your family thousands of dollars on dental bills with a little bit of tooth brushing vigilance and determination! I gave you the 15 steps you need to know how to brush your preschooler’s teeth and the 3 things that are most likely to cause them!
I know it may seem like a lot, but the truth is, it takes a lot to keep him cavity free! Brushing and flossing FOR HIM, teaching him how to spit and hold the toothbrush, and the importance of it all, make it likely for him to make it through childhood without a single cavity, as my 4 have done.
Take these 15 steps for how to brush your preschooler’s teeth and do them! You’ll be glad you did.