8 Top Tips for Establishing a Healthy, Lifelong Dental Routine for Your Toddler

Few things in life are as precious as your baby’s gorgeous gummy grin, but keeping them healthy through toddlerhood can take a little dedication and determination. Establishing a positive dental routine early on sets the routine for a lifetime of sparkling smiles and good oral health.

In this article, we’ll explore top tips and practical advice to help you establish a positive oral hygiene routines and experiences for you and your child, so that they embed good habits right from the first pearly white!

Understanding Your Toddler's Dental Journey

  • 6 months – 1 year: During this time, your child’s first teeth are likely to emerge. Use a finger brush or soft silicone teether with pea-sized fluoride toothpaste (suitable for babies). Don’t feel too despondent if they just suck the toothpaste off the brush. They are getting used to the sensory experience of texture and taste of the toothbrush and paste.
  • 1-3 years: More teeth arrive, and your toddler will start to gain independence. So, let them "brush" first, then gently finish the job. Fun toothbrushes and songs can go a long way! For example, ‘’This is the Way we Brush our Teeth’’ to the tune of ‘’Here we go Round the Mulberry Bush’’.
  • 3-5 years: All your little one’s teeth should be through, and their brushing skills are improving, however supervision is still essential. Now you can even encourage flossing with child-friendly picks.

Please note:
These are general age and stage guidelines, which may vary from child to child.

8 Top Tips for a Winning Dental Routine

Every child is unique and will take to teeth-brushing differently, but love it or hate it, it’s an essential hygiene and self-care practice that your child will take with them into the rest of their lives, so it’s important to give them the best possible start. Here’s how…

  1. Make it Fun: Ditch the chore mentality. Turn brushing into playtime with colourful toothbrushes, silly songs, and stories about superhero teeth fighting sugar bugs and bad breath.
  2. Lead by Example: Brush your teeth together, demonstrating your positive attitude towards the action and showing your toddler the proper technique. Role modelling is a powerful tool!
  3. Let Them Choose: Involve your child in selecting toothpaste flavours and colourful brushes. Allowing your child to make decisions and practise independence with aspects of this routine will not only empower them, but encourage their buy-in.
  4. Time it Right: Aim for brushing twice a day – after breakfast and before bed. As with any routine-building exercise, consistency is key.
  5. Positive Reinforcement: Much like with potty training, it’s important to celebrate successes with praise and positive reinforcement. Try to avoid negativity or threats, which can often backfire. Don’t ever use force, as this will instil phobias or fears.
  6. Embrace Technology: Interactive apps and timers can make brushing more engaging and ensure thorough cleaning. 3-minute egg timers are a great way to encourage sustained brushing routines and children can visually see the timer counting down.
  7. Make it Sensory: Let your toddler touch and explore toothpaste textures and brush bristles. Curiosity and familiarity helps children feel secure and comfortable. Don’t be afraid to spend a little extra time in the bathroom making teeth-brushing a fun, explorative and engaging experience.
  8. Don't Forget the Fun Stuff: Why not turn something rather mundane into a topic if interest? You can build positive hype around teeth-brushing by reading books about teeth, sing tooth-brushing songs, and or even playing ‘dentist’ with stuffed animals. Never underestimate the power of learning through play.

Bonus Tip: Schedule regular checkups with your dentist. Early detection and prevention are crucial for maintaining healthy teeth.

Remember: Building a dental routine takes time and patience. Celebrate each milestone, embrace the occasional hiccup, and most importantly, keep it light and fun! With these tips and your unwavering support, your child will be on their way to a lifetime of healthy, happy smiles.

External Resources

Remember: Adapt these tips to your child's unique needs and preferences. Every smile is different, and your love and guidance are the most powerful tools of all.

I hope this article brings a smile to your face and equips you with the knowledge to nurture your toddler's oral health journey!

If you enjoyed this article and found it to be useful, you can check out more of our early childcare resources in our Family Resource Zone!

And, if you’re not yet a Bright Horizons parent, but are interested in what our nurseries can offer your child on their exciting educational journey, book a personal tour at your local nursery today!