How do you brush a toddler's teeth?

(March 3, 2010)

Brushing a toddler’s teeth is one of the most challenging and memorable tasks for any parent. Most toddlers find brushing their teeth to be very boring and time consuming. It is but natural that they would rather spend that time playing, sleeping or eating. Hence, as parents, it is our duty to ensure that they get into the habit of keeping their mouth and teeth clean from an early age itself. Since a toddler is unable to communicate feelings, tooth infections often go unnoticed. Therefore, regular oral hygiene will minimize chances of oral infection.

Initially, you could introduce oral hygiene by rubbing your infant’s teeth and gums in a light, circular motion, with a soft cloth so as to ensure that no food remains in the mouth. In addition to minimizing the chances of oral infections, this action has a soothing effect on the gums, especially if the toddler is still teething. Following this routine after every meal is advisable. As your toddler begins to understand this routine, introduce the use of a toothbrush, especially designed for toddlers. Being soft, the bristles of these toothbrushes will not cause much discomfort to your baby. Initially, your toddler will find this task very uncomfortable. However, it is advisable not to give in to your toddler’s pleas and instead sit him or her down on your lap and ensure that the process is complete. Nevertheless, ensure that you are not too harsh or rough as your toddler may take an aversion to brushing his teeth altogether. Cleaning the tongue is equally important. Avoid giving your child any food before brushing his or her teeth in the morning and after brushing at bedtime.  

At such a young age, a toddler will not be able to grip the brush properly and hence you will have to physically help him or her accomplish the task. Brushing teeth in an up-down direction and not from side to side is the right technique. This helps in dislodging any food particles that may be stuck in the crevices of the teeth as well as just below the gums which are usually not firm in a toddler. Brushing the inner side of the teeth is also essential. Setting an example and words of praise will surely encourage your toddler to brush his or her teeth regularly. As most toddlers end up playing in the water, supervising your toddler at brushing time is recommended. Furthermore, it will ensure that your child has brushed his or her teeth properly.

Submitted by P T on March 3, 2010 at 01:00

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