Do you brush your toddler’s teeth or do you let him do it himself? You do it… Ok, good! You should absolutely be doing this for him. Are you doing it right? Not sure? Well… you gotta know if you are doing it right, otherwise, he might as well be doing it himself. Let’s talk for a few minutes about how to brush your toddler’s teeth, so you can be sure he stays cavity free and doesn’t end up needing extensive dental surgery.
this post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you purchase after clicking on my links at no extra cost to you. find out more here
How To Brush Your Toddlers Teeth
Kids aren’t ready to brush on their own teeth until they can write in cursive and do it well. So, your toddler certainly needs you to do it for him. Brushing your toddler’s teeth is typically a battle of the wills.
If you want your toddler to have a healthy mouth your will has to match and exceed his own! During my years in pediatric dentistry, I saw bunches of babies as young as 18 months need dental surgery under general sedation to fix their teeth!
The instructions I’ll give you for how to brush your toddler’s teeth and care for her mouth will prevent cavities and pediatric dental surgery if you follow them exactly!
First, in case I am way off the mark here, and you actually want your toddler to get cavities, I’ll give you 5 things you should do if you WANT your toddler to have cavities!
5 Things You Should Do If You WANT Your Toddler To Have Cavities!
Don’t brush or floss. If you want to be concerned only with her nutrition and not put the effort into brushing, you should start saving for her dental bills now. It does not matter how great her nutrition is. If she never has a single piece of candy but also isn’t brushed properly, she WILL get cavities!
Let your child snack on crackers, chips, and starchy foods without brushing after. The foods that cause cavities the most would surprise you. While most candy is water soluble and eventually dissolves in the mouth, foods like chips and crackers, are not.
Those foods get stuck down in the little grooves and crevices of the teeth and will cause a cavity in a hot-quick-minute!
So, give her lots of those kinds of snacks and don’t brush after if you want to make sure she gets cavities. An even better way to make sure she gets cavities is to let her toddle around while carrying a snack pack of crackers so that her teeth are exposed to the cavity causes for longer periods of time!
Give her juice and soda to drink. Juice is so full of sugar and low on nutritional value, giving it to your toddler in a bottle or sippy cup to carry around is a great way to make sure she gets cavities. Repeat that process with soda and you will keep all the pediatric dentists in business for years to come!
Allow your toddler to sleep with a bottle or sippy cup of milk or juice. As she sleeps with a bottle or cup of milk, her teeth are repeatedly bathed in the milk or juice ALL NIGHT LONG and nothing in all creation will cause a baby-tooth-cavity faster!
Let him brush on his own. If he can hold his toothbrush and can even put it in his mouth, letting him brush on his own is tempting. And if you want him to get cavities you should let him do so.
But that’s not you! No way! You are way too concerned about your toddler’s health to WANT him to get cavities. And I don’t really enjoy being snarky (as effective as it can be.)
How to Brush Your Toddler’s Teeth In 15 Simple Steps!
Get the printable version of this guide in the free resources library here!
#3. Buy flossers like these.
#4. Allow your toddler to chew on his toothbrush while seated. He can do this after a meal, a snack, or anytime just for fun. Rinse the toothbrush with hot water afterward.
#5. Have a talk with your toddler about brushing and why it’s SO important. It should sound like this, “I’m so excited about your new toothbrush! It’s so cool and we’re going to have fun brushing your teeth so you don’t get boo-boo’s on them!”
No, he won’t understand every detail, that’s not the point. Mommy’s miss out on lots of child training by falsely thinking a child has to completely understand FIRST, instead of training, SO they understand!
#6. Brush at bedtime, AFTER all milk, food, and snacks are done for the day, but BEFORE rocking and snuggling. And every morning AFTER breakfast.
#7. At the appointed time, gather toothbrush (with paste already on it!) and a flosser.
#8. Position your toddler on the changing table or floor with your belly at his head. Hold both his hands at one time in your non-dominant hand, and hold his toothbrush in your dominant hand.
#9. Gently but firmly hold his head between your forearm (the one you are using to hold his hands) and your belly.
#10. Begin brushing his teeth quickly, but THOROUGHLY. Brushing all 3 visible sides of the teeth in the following pattern.
- brush the outside surface of the teeth (this is the side touching the inside of his cheeks) using up and down circular motions.
- then brush the chewing surface of his teeth using straight back and forth motions.
- lastly, 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.
#11. 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!
#12. Quickly 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.
Make a Big Deal!
#13. After completing brushing and flossing, release your toddler and give 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. Do this no matter how the tooth brushing session went! He is getting his cues from you, not the other way around!
#14. Do this twice a day every day.
#15. Your toddler may love the entire experience and never cry. OR he may cry from start to finish! He may cry for every tooth brushing session for a year. Either way is OK! 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.
You Both Made It Through.
He is NOT hurt. You are doing a great service for him by preventing cavities and future dental treatment! And likewise, are doing a disservice by not properly caring for his teeth. Regardless of whether he laughs or cries, do it anyway! Spend far less time trying to figure out how to make it fun and far more time concerned with the health of his teeth and creating great habits that will last him a lifetime!
What Kind of Behavior Should You Expect?
I don’t know how your toddler will react to regular, thorough brushing. You’ll find out soon enough! I can recall a time when I gave these instructions to a Mom, and her child cried every single tooth brushing for 9 months!
Ya, I know, that’s kind of a scary thought. However, she stuck with it, and that child is now 5, and loves to brush and has never had a cavity or any dental trouble to speak of!
Of my own 4 children, I have had a variety of responses as well. Some loved it. Others hated it. It doesn’t matter. Your toddler doesn’t know what’s best for himself. That’s why he has you!
To do what needs to be done and show him the way! You’ll find more great free resources for training your young child in my free resources library here.
Brush To It.
I’ve given you 5 really great ways to make sure your toddler DOES get cavities! And since I know that’s not what you want, and sarcasm is lame, I have also given you every instruction you need to prevent cavities.
Follow the 15 steps for how to brush your toddler’s teeth, every single day. When you’re tired, do it anyway. When he cries, do it anyway. Eventually, it will be easy-breezy and he won’t cry, because you made it a habit and a priority! Happy Brushing! (even when it’s not:)