Guide To Dental Care For Toddlers

“When can I start to brush baby’s teeth?” “How do I do it?” “And what if my toddler hates brushing her teeth?” If you’re unsure about dental care for your infant or toddler, you’re not alone. And if brushing your toddler’s teeth is quite a daunting task, no need to worry. Even though you have a stubborn toddler who is equally convinced that tooth brushing is unnecessary, you can handle it.

Besides, brushing your child’s teeth correctly is worthwhile because it sets them up for a healthy mouth and teaches them the importance of brushing their teeth twice daily to prevent cavities and tooth decay, which can start as soon as the very first tooth breaks through your infant’s gums.


So, it is crucial to start brushing your baby’s mouth as soon as you notice their first tooth growing. But there’s more to dental care, which we have discussed extensively in this article. Read on to learn more.

Should I Brush My Infant’s Gums?

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How ro care for a toddler’s teeth

There’s no need to start brushing with a toothbrush or paste until your child’s teeth begin to erupt. However, you’re required to clean your infant’s gums daily. The American Dental Association advises that you clean your baby’s gums regularly, starting just a few days after birth. Making the cleaning of your infant’s gums a part of your everyday routine right from the go will help ensure that by the time your child’s first tooth comes in, both of you are already used to regular mouth cleanings. Also, because each baby teethes differently, it can sometimes be hard for a parent to tell when their kiddo’s first tooth is starting to break.

According to Hurst Pediatric Dentistry, cleaning decay-causing bacteria from your infant’s mouth daily by wiping their gums can act as a safeguard, helping protect the tooth until it becomes noticeable that the tooth has erupted, and brushing is now necessary. To clean your infant’s gums, gently wipe them using a clean, damp washcloth for a couple of minutes. Also, the cold temperature can soothe your little one’s sore gums.

When Do You Start Brushing Toddler Teeth?

What if your baby won’t let you inside her mouth? What if she runs away at the sight of a brush? Is it okay to just let her be until she is older and can understand the basics of tooth brushing? No. You shouldn’t wait. Brushing your young child’s teeth isn’t always straightforward. Still, it is vital to establish and maintain a proper oral healthcare routine to keep their mouth healthy and avoid potentially serious infections.

According to Raising Children, toddlers’ teeth need to be cleaned twice a day – after breakfast and before bed. Use a soft, small toothbrush designed for kids under two. While in previous years, it was okay only to use water on the brush until the baby was eighteen months and avoid fluoridated paste until your toddler was two years of age, guidelines have changed to offer improved cavity prevention.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends using a tiny bit of paste with fluoride daily as soon as your toddler’s teeth start to come in. Your baby can begin helping clean her teeth when she turns two. Letting them hold their brush with you will help them feel as if they’re part of the action. But your child needs your assistance and supervision with cleaning teeth until he is about eight years old.

RELATED: Should You See A Dentist When Baby’s Teeth Aren’t Coming In?

A Step-By-Step Guide On Brushing Your Toddler’s Teeth

Here’s a detailed step-by-step process on how to brush your toddler’s teeth:

Step 1

Buy the required supplies – The first step involves picking out the right supplies. Make sure you buy a child’s size brush and toothpaste.

Healthline advises that you buy products that your child likes. You can choose a paste you think may appeal to your child from the many flavors in the toothpaste aisle. It may be bubblegum or watermelon-flavored. Or if you’re like many parents, you know it’s critical to buy the tube with the cars or princesses on it. Also, pick a toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles. You can ask your toddler if he prefers a specific toothbrush color since getting involved in the entire process can go a long way.

Step 2

Coach your toddler about what is about to happen. Some babies like to know what’s coming, so go ahead and tell your child what you’ll be doing. It may even help to read a fun book about brushing beforehand. Does your child love Elmo, Cocomelon, or Blippi? You can watch a video together or listen to one of their songs about tooth brushing to prepare for the event. Demonstrating brushing on a doll can also make it more fun. Alternatively, check out the American Dental Association’s list of fun brushing tunes for kids.

Step 3

Prepare the brush. Place a tiny dab of paste on the brush. If your baby is under three years, that dab shouldn’t be bigger than a rice grain. If they’re about 3, a pea-sized amount is okay. Also, before placing the brush with paste inside their mouth, remind them they’re not supposed to swallow the paste.

Step 4

Brush! Now it’s time to brush your toddler’s teeth. If he loves to do stuff by himself, let him give it go first. Ensure you supervise him and don’t leave the room as he works on brushing. After he’s done his part, you can take over. Make sure you gently brush the surface of all the teeth and don’t skip his back teeth. In fact, remind him not to forget those “hidden” teeth.

Step 5

Spit! Now, this is where things can get a bit messy, but you don’t want your baby to get in the habit of ingesting too much paste. The small smear of toothpaste your little one used when she was younger was fairly harmless, but according to National Capital Poison Center, once she’s using a bit more, swallowing may cause an upset stomach. So, encourage her to learn how to spit by doing it yourself.

Other Tips For Toddler Dental Hygiene

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Dental care for toddlers

  • Make brushing fun– You can bring in your child’s favorite toy and let her brush its teeth while you brush hers, play some music as you brush or sing a song specifically about brushing teeth, let your child brush her teeth first, and go in later or vice versa , tell funny stories as you brush to lighten the mood, and offer your baby choices, such as letting her pick a brush she loves.
  • Try the knee-to-knee technique – While brushing your baby’s teeth sound simple in theory, she may still not let you put a brush inside her mouth. Fortunately, you can try a couple of techniques, including knee-to-knee, which involves two adults and works as described by Hurst Pediatric Dentistry.
  • Visit the dentist – Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and American Dental Association (ADA) advise that you take your baby to a dentist around when they turn one. In fact, it is advisable to see a dentist earlier if your baby’s teeth early. Your baby will probably have all 20 teeth by the time he turns three. So, make it a habit to see a dentist twice annually to keep his teeth in good shape.


American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Dental Association (ADA), American Dental Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Healthline, Hurst Pediatric Dentistry, National Capital Poison Center, Raising Children

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