How should I clean my toddler's teeth? Health & Development

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mom brushing baby's teeth with a toothbrush.
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We all know dental health is important, but try telling that to a stubborn toddler at toothbrushing time! Use these brushing tips and tricks to make sure your toddler's teeth stay clean and healthy.

Brush Teeth Twice a Day

"Teeth should be cleaned with a toothbrush twice daily with the assistance of a caregiver. A children's toothpaste can be used (about the size of a pea); however, regular adult toothpaste can be used in small quantities (about the size of the toddler's pinkie fingernail). There is no harm if they swallow that amount of adult toothpaste." -- Jarret Patton, MD, founder of DoctorJarret PLLC, Reading, PA

Make Brushing Fun

"I make a game of it. For example I'll say, 'I've got to find those little sugar bugs -- we need to find 20.' He really grooves to that. It also helps with counting. If he likes airplanes, let him know you need to park the planes in his mouth, and pretend the brush is a plane. The play possibilities are endless. Have fun!"

Take Turns

"I let my little one brush her teeth first, then I go and brush them again before she is finished. That way she feels like she is doing it all by herself but I still get some good cleaning in."

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."

Put It on the Chore Chart

"We bought a chore chart, where we can write things like 'Make bed' and 'Get ready for school.' And then he can check them off. We put toothbrushing on the chart, so he gets excited to get it done."

The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.