Louisa Claire

5 Tips For Brushing Your Toddlers Teeth (and does it really matter?)

If brushing your toddlers teeth is anything like it is at my place, it’s one of the most frustrating times of the day. I admit, I can be tempted just to skip the whole routine and save everyone the trauma.

Last week I was lucky enough to talk to Melanie Hayes, President of the NSW Dental Hygienists’ Association of Australia and ask her advice on brushing kids’ teeth.

Turns out I’m not the only Mum who finds it a frustrating process, but skipping the brushing or even skimping on it, is a really bad idea. Did you know that kids can get tooth decay in their baby teeth? In fact, 38% of 5-6 year olds in Australia will have tooth decay! That’s a scary statistic for something that is a preventable disease.

If I needed convincing that finding a less traumatic way to do this then that little statistic did the trick. Thankfully Melanie had some suggestions to help.

Melanie’s 5 tips for brushing your toddler’s teeth.

Tip 1. It’s not good for toddlers to swallow toothpaste because it contains fluoride and too much fluoride can be harmful in children. Make sure you use a low fluoride toothpaste and get them to practice spitting with water. Note: babies up to 18months old don’t need toothpaste at all, just use a soft brush and water.

Tip 2: Don’t use too much toothpaste, you need an amount smaller than the size of a pea. The taste of the toothpaste can be off-putting to some kids (or too appealing to others – mine included!)

Tip 3. Toddlers love to copy you, so brush your teeth with them.

Tip 4. Let your toddler brush your teeth, while you brush their’s. (Also a tactic employed by the lovely Zoey from Good Goog)

Tip 5. When it comes to visiting the Dentist, create positive associations with the experience (a funny balloon etc..) and rather than booking an appointment for your toddler, make a family appointment where you go first to show them what will happen, and then they have a turn.

Bonus Tip! To protect your child’s teeth from the sugar in drinks (which, by the way,we should be limiting) let them use a straw so the drink misses their teeth.

How do you find brushing your toddler’s teeth. Have your older kids gotten better at this routine? What tips can you share to make this an easier experience for mother & child?


Thanks to Colgate for hosting such an interesting event and for helping make this part of the day a little bit easier.


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Thoughts on “5 Tips For Brushing Your Toddlers Teeth (and does it really matter?)

  1. This is timely advice as the little miss has teeth arriving rapidly (her 6th and 7th teeth are on the way down now… she’s only 10 months!) and hubby and I have had the discussion of how we really need to start brushing them. I’ll be taking this advice on board as we attempt the great first brush!
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    • Oh how exciting! I think our babies must be days apart in age, how funny! Little Bear is also days apart with Kellie from Three Lil Princesses bub Holly. Baby boom!

      Yes, brushing babies teeth is great and in fact you can brush gently before they have teeth too (who knew?!) Little Bear has 6 teeth and we have been giving them a little brush in the bath each night. The other thing they told us about babies is not to let them go to bed at night with a bottle because the warm milk in their mouths is a breeding ground for bacteria, especially at night when our saliva isn’t functioning as well (as it’s saliva that fights the bacteria). The things you learn! :)

  2. Brushing is still a challenge at our place. We first introduced it by showing her three main YouTube videos of brushing – Abby and Elmo brushing, a general Sesame Street episode about dental hygiene and another with cute dog and hippo characters brushing. These helped to initially get her interest in the idea. Now that she’s 2, she will do it more frequently because we have a reward chart which not only provides rewards but outlines the habits she needs to follow through with eg: getting dressed, potty, etc. However, even then, we have to be sure we don’t brush whilst it in the bath otherwise she makes a game of throwing her toothbrush int the soapy water. Doing it in front of the mirror helps her be a little more focused. We also have several novelty toothbrushes for her to rotate depending on her mood and use berry flavoured kid’s toothpaste. She also asks me to brush with her so I do. We have a routine of “EEEE” (front teeth grit together) and “AAAAHHH” (open wide for molars). She’s lately been asking me to help her but she was trying independently before this. I see it as a work in progress and at least we are getting her to do it more often than not.
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  3. Oh I’ve battled this for years now. So tempting to skip and miss nights because when you are tired and worn out at the end of the day it sometimes just seems like to much. No real tips from me – just consistency. When they get older and more independent I still like to tell them ‘Mummy just needs to polish your teeth’ after they have cleaned them themselves. Then after all my hard work making sure it gets done, big pinks still had to get a filling in on of her back teeth at age 6. I was devistated. But them is the breaks!!
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  4. This is a struggle in my house too….they are both independent and want to do it themselves. So my 2 year old is quite happy to do it herself (loves toothpaste), but then when it it my turn she gets cranky. I have to hold her arms down so she doesn’t push me away. My 4 year old is no better – he wants to do it himself too – ahhh the joys of kids who think they can do everything!

  5. We started brushing teeth as soon as any teeth turned up so my kids got used to brushing teeth before they really had any say in it so got quite used to the routine before any bad behaviours occurred. So I think my tip is to start early (without toothpaste, as Melanie suggests)< Thankfully my kids are very happy for me to brush their teeth for them and sometimes have a go first and I "finish off" for them. They are 2 and 4. It took a while for the 4yo to start spitting but he got the hang of it and my 2yo is spitting out already but she much prefers to swallow it! :)
    Libby recently posted..Menu Plan MondayMy Profile

  6. I’m working on a video for this one (yes, I know, you expect that from me! Ha!). Our thing is to sing the Toothbrush Song from PlaySchool, which turns the whole event into a game. Ella gets to brush her own teeth first and then it’s my turn to brush her teeth. I’ve also adopted the tip about facing her towards the mirror while I brush. It usually ends in a giggling fit, but I’d rather that than the other way around!!!
    PS. My teething bub at the Colgate brunch popped TWO teeth a day later. Since, she’s been sleeping from 7am-7pm with only two short wakings. Sleep, here I come!! :)
    Kellie @ Three Li’l Princesses recently posted..BLOG: The secrets behind my blog growthMy Profile

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