How do I keep my toddler's teeth healthy?
Real Mom Problem
“I try to get my son to let me brush his teeth but he just throws fits. What should I do? ”
- 1. The AAP recommends your child begin visiting the dentist at age one
- 2. Brush your toddler's teeth twice a day with a soft toothbrush
- 3. Begin flossing once your toddler has 2 teeth that touch each other
- 4. You must brush your toddler's their teeth for them although it's fine to let them have a turn too
- 5. Avoid letting your toddler fall asleep with a bottle of juice or milk
Real Mom Solutions
We all know dental health is important, but try telling that to a stubborn toddler! Don't pull your hair out! Instead, try these tips and tricks; proven successful by the moms of CafeMom.
Make Brushing Fun
I tell my kids there are monsters in their mouth and we have to brush them out! It's not scary just fun! When I brush my 4 year old's teeth at night she makes me tell her what they are doing as I brush them. It goes something like this: "The baby monsters are down here and they are playing in the sandbox throwing sand all over your tongue. Oh and I found all the brother and sisters. They are swinging on the swings. Where's the mommy? Oh there she is she's in the kitchen cooking dinner. Quick let's get her out too! And where is that daddy? Oh there he is outside washing the car we better hurry up and get them all out!" I say all this while I brush then I let her finish it up then she rinses and spits all the monsters into the sink. It's the only way she will let me brush them.
I would allow my son to brush my teeth first, and then he would be more amenable to me brushing his. I would also make a game of it, like say "I've got to find those little sugar bugs - we need to find 20", and he really grooved to that. It also helps with counting. If he likes airplanes, then let him know you need to park the planes in his mouth, like an airplane hangar, and pretend the brush is a plane, landing, and brush as it lands. The play possibilities are endless. Have fun!
My son liked this one. You could say "I'll brush them, but you go over them afterwards to make sure I didn't miss anything." He really liked this because he likes to be in control or feel like he's very important, he thinks "Oh wow, mommy can't even get all the stuff off my teeth but I'm so good at it I have to help" type deal.
I let my three-and-a-half-year-old brush her teeth first, then I go and brush them again before she is finished. That way she feels she is doing it all by herself!
I have always told my son that he has to wait his turn. Mommy brushes your teeth first and then it's your turn. He's always been fine with it. As long as he gets his turn.
My 3 year old has always enjoyed brushing her teeth. When she started to refuse for me to brush her teeth around the age of 2, I let her brush mine while I brushed hers. Now she likes to do it herself again.
Brush for Them
I took a training seminar in dental health and was taught that until kids can tie their shoes or write in cursive, they do not have the dexterity to clean their own teeth adequately.
I used to hold him down and force him to let me brush his teeth. I actually used to tell him if I don't brush his teeth all of them are going to rot and fall out (terrible I know, but I have HORRIBLE teeth and I don't want him to go through the same thing). I don't have a problem with my son anymore; he actually flosses and rinses himself!
According to my children's dentists, you have to just do it. Hold arms, pry open mouths, whatever it takes.
To the Dentist We Go! But When?
My kiddo has been going since he was 2. He did just fine with it. Before he went, we played "dentist" so that he was used to the idea of someone digging around in his mouth.
He went right at 12 months, as that is what is recommended by the ADA & our dentist. He did fine. He sat on my lap and they looked in his mouth and painted fluoride on his teeth. They gave him a cute baby Einstein toothbrush and that was it. He went again at 18 months and has another check up scheduled for next month when he will be two.
New guidelines from the AAP say when first tooth comes in. My daughter has been going to a Pediatric Dentist since 1.
My dentist said 3 - anything before then can be traumatic.
No one around here will see them until age 3 so that is when my kids started. My youngest has gone twice now. The first time didn't go so well but her last appointment recently was really good!
Too Young for Toothpaste?
The training toothpaste isn't fluoridated so it's not dangerous but not necessary. I started using the training toothpaste when my kids were old enough to attempt to spit it out. My daughter will be 3 and is just starting to use it.
As soon as they got teeth we started with infant toothpaste and then used normal toothpaste as soon as they could spit. Yes, it is necessary if you want healthy teeth.
My son is two-and-a-half. I was handed a tube of Kid's Crest with fluoride by the dentist and told that I can start using it immediately. I was told the amount they swallow is not dangerous (unless they eat the ENTIRE tube) and they will begin to learn to spit it out. I was cautioned not to give adult toothpaste as the taste is too strong and the kid's will reject brushing teeth.