Helping Toddlers Brush Their Teeth (Without Them Noticing)

As your baby transitions from being a baby into a toddler, you may notice they act with more independence. They may have mastered tasks they used to need your help with, like brushing their own teeth, but they still require your supervision. While at first, they may reject your involvement, there are some creative ways to oversee without letting know that’s what you are really trying to do.

Baby Gaga outlines the top 9 mistakes parents make with toddlers and toothbrushing and we added one for good will:

  1. Not watching your child while he or she brushes their teeth – We absolutely recommend building your child’s confidence by allowing them to handle certain tasks by themselves, but there is no way to know if your child is correctly brushing unless you are an observer. At toddler age, children are not capable of handling this task effectively. In fact, it’s not until they are 7 or 8 that they will have actually honed their motor skills enough to brush independently.
  2. Speeding through brushing time – We are all busy and sometimes it’s hard to avoid shortcuts. Whether you’re running late to get to school or rushing your child to bedtime, don’t forget to brush their teeth for at least two minutes in the morning and two minutes at night. Baby teeth are just as important to keep clean as adult teeth because their health sets the foundation for secondary teeth.
  3. Letting your child chew on their toothbrush – Misshaped toothbrushes from chewing won’t do the job they should. If chewed the wrong way, they can also cut your child’s gums. Don’t let your child chew on their toothbrush. If they fuss, let them know calmly why you don’t want them to chew on it and over time, your presence should get them to stop.
  4. Using toothpaste that doesn’t have fluoride – There are a ton of new fashionable kids’ toothpastes on the market, but you must use fluoride in your child’s toothpaste to prevent tooth decay and strengthen enamel.
  5. Treating toothpaste like a snack – If you’ve succumbed to getting your child a flavored toothpaste to strengthen brushing habits, make sure they aren’t swallowing too much of it. Swallowing too much toothpaste can cause stomach pain and in extreme cases, intestinal blockages.
  6. Having your baby swish and rinse after brushing – If your child rinses their mouth with water after brushing, they will wash away the benefits of their brushing routine and toothpaste.
  7. Giving in to your child if they don’t want to brush – Don’t let your child form bad habits by letting them skip brush time. This can easily become hard to correct and a challenge to overcome. Brushing alongside your child or making up a toothpaste song may help encourage better behavior.
  8. Not consistently looking at the developing molars at the back of your child’s mouth – Back molars are the first place babies will develop cavities, so routinely check their mouth to make sure you are getting those areas well while brushing.
  9. Gargling with mouthwash – Children at young ages cannot spit or rinse their mouths and could choke if something goes awry. Avoid mouthwash. It’s usually not necessary anyway, but if you notice bad breath in your young one, bring them in to check for other possible issues.
  10. Rewarding your child for brushing with candy – This may seem like a no-brainer, but parents are sometimes pushed to such limits that they will do anything to get their child to quiet down and behave. Don’t cave! Your child will feel rewarded if you spend time with them while brushing or even make it a ritual that you share in the mornings and/or evenings together.


Learn more @


Medplex Pediatric Dentistry serves as a top-rated pediatric dentist for Alabaster, Birmingham, Hoover, Helena, and Pelham.