“I can do it myself!”
Parents of toddlers are familiar with this announcement as their children progress into the age of self-awareness and growing independence. Even so, children need assistance with oral hygiene. Your child’s dentist is a valuable resource for developing an effective daily oral care routine that also embraces your toddler’s enthusiastic independence.
At Distinctive Dentistry, we offer these tips:
- Choose the right toothbrush. It should be small, with soft bristles and a thick handle. When shopping, find a few to show to your child, then let him/her child choose. Even better – choose more than one, as at this age your child may try to grab the toothbrush from you. Having one (or two) for the child to hold may be the answer. Having extra toothbrushes will also help you keep on schedule, as they should be replaced every 3-4 months or sooner if the brush shows signs of wear.
- Use fluoridated toothpaste. Toothpaste comes in a variety of kid-friendly flavors. Again, present options to your child. For children under 3, use a small smear, the size of a grain of rice. At age 3, increase the amount to the size of a pea. If your water isn’t fluoridated, talk with your children’s dentist about fluoride treatments and supplements.
- Be brushing buddies twice a day, in the morning and before bed. If your child insists on brushing his/her own teeth, by all means go for it! But, be sure to check afterward and do “touch-ups” as needed. Make it fun! Sing a silly song, make funny faces in the mirror, name as many types of animals as you can, etc., while helping your child brush. Brush for 2 minutes, focusing on the back molars, where cavities often first develop. Consider getting a simple sand timer, or kick it up a notch with something like the one pictured, by Molar Mate. Reward your child with positive encouragement, hugs, and maybe even by turning the tables and give your child a chance to brush your teeth (with your guidance, of course).
- Floss, as soon as your child has 2 teeth that touch. Your child’s dentist can recommend alternatives to string floss, which may be easier to use.
- Reinforce good habits by reading a story about brushing; there are many available including “I Love to Brush My Teeth” by Shelly Admont and “The Going To Bed Book” by Sandra Boynton.
- Establish a “dental home” early in your child’s life. Our office is kid-friendly and our staff is passionate about taking care of all of our patients, babies on up to grandparents!