How to Brush my Toddler’s Teeth? A Step-by-Step Guide

How to brush my toddlers teeth? So, you’ve attempted to brush your toddler’s teeth multiple times, to no avail? What do I do, how to brush my toddler’s teeth!!? How do I make this work!! I get it, it can feel super frustrating having to battle a toddler twice a day, every day, to brush their teeth, let alone without knowing what to do to make it easier, or ensure it is being done right!

All of the tips and information below are from both our team’s learned experience with both our toddlers and the advice of professionals’ we have spoken with.What follows in this post are not only tips to help you with brushing your toddler’s teeth, but to get them brushing their own teeth! We’ve also included a toddler teeth development chart and tips on how to prepare your toddler for the dentist!

So, without further ado….

Table of Contents

How Should I Brush My Toddler’s Teeth?

Step 1: Brace Yourself

OK, just kidding. (Kind of.) Here’s how to make sure you’re ready to get going on brushing your toddler’s teeth in the easiest, most effective way.

Step 2: Buy the necessary supplies

The first step is to pick out the right supplies. Make sure you have a children’s sized toothbrush and children’s toothpaste ready to go. These are readily available at supermarkets, chemists and even petrol (gas) stations! Or, check out our resources section for recommendations.

Step 3: Talk your toddler through what’s going to happen

Some kids like to know what to expect (especially those who suffer toddler anxiety!), so go ahead and tell them what you’re going to be doing and WHY.

It might even help to read a fun book about toothbrushing beforehand. Does your toddler love Spot or The Wiggles – there are heaps of popular children’s books and songs about teeth brushing. Check out our resources section for recommendations.

Step 3: Prepare the toothbrush

Put a tiny dab of toothpaste on the toothbrush. If your child is still under 3 years old, that dab doesn’t need to be any bigger than a piece of rice. Once they’re about 3 years old, a pea-sized blob is appropriate.

Also, before you put the toothbrush with toothpaste in your child’s mouth, remind them that they’re not supposed to swallow the toothpaste (hahahah good luck – Delilah loves the stuff!)

Step 4: Brush!

Time to brush those teeth! If your toddler is a “by myself!” kind of kid, let them give it a try first. Make sure you supervise them, though. Don’t leave the room while they work on brushing.

After they’ve done their part, you can take over (this might take some begging!). Make sure to gently brush the surface of all their teeth. Don’t skip the back teeth! 

If you’re using an electric toothbrush, avoid moving the brush in circles. Keep your hand still, and guide the brush across your child’s teeth and gums.

Step 5: Spit

This might get a little messy, but you don’t want your child to get in the habit of swallowing too much toothpaste – it can have a bit of a laxative effect, which is fun for everyone!

Encourage your child to learn how to spit by demonstrating it yourself (even more fun!)

5x Simple Toddler Teeth Brushing Hacks

If your toddler readily cooperates with toothbrushing after breakfast and before bed each day, well, TELL ME ALL OF YOUR SECRETS! If your child is perhaps not so into it, you may need to get a little, well, creative. Here are a few tips to making oral hygiene a little easier on the both of you:

  • Do what we do and do the toddler teeth brushing in the shower or bath – this works an absolute treat as they are in a good mood, having fun splashing around and are more likely to cooperate
  • Demonstrate on their favourite teddy or doll – then get them to have a go on the toy too
  • Try a different angle – have them rest their head on your lap and try brushing that way – it sound strange but actually gives you MUCH better access to those tricky spots in the mouth
  • If they won’t open their mouth for you – get them to let out a big GRRRRR like their favourite animal – then get in there with the toothbrush – but you’ve got to be quick
  • It’s hardly a hack – but make sure the toothpaste tastes kid-friendly and the toothbrush is a fun character one – it honestly makes all the difference

Apps & Videos To Encourage Toddler Teeth Brushing

As the saying goes – there’s an app for that! Here are our favourite smartphone apps & YouTube videos to help you convince your toddler that brushing their teeth is FUN.

Brushing Hero App

This is really cute and really clever. Initially designed for kids with Autism, this brilliant app can be used to encourage any toddler to brush their teeth.

Brush DJ App

Brush DJ is one of the original tooth-brushing apps. Designed by a dentist, this app utilises your own music collection on your phone and different timers to get the kids brushing.

Disney Magic Timer

Hosted by Oral-B, this app features all of your toddler’s favourite Disney characters (yes, Elsa is there!). It is said that the app helps kids brush their teeth twice as long as without the app.

Elmo Toddler Teeth Brushing Video

In our house we never want to hear Elmo ever again because of this song. Even once it got Freddie brushing (yay) – he used it every day for OVER A YEAR before he tired of it. But hey, it works!

Tooth Brushing Song by Blippi

Kids love him. He drives me nuts. Enter the Blippi world at your own peril!

What Is The Point Of Brushing Toddler and Baby Teeth?

mum holding toddler while brushing his teeth

Here’s why brushing your toddler’s teeth is so critical: It prevents cavities and any other form of tooth decay. And cavities from a young age are more common than you might realize (especially in those with a high sugar diet). The flouride even in a small amount of toothpaste will go a long way towards preventing cavities as your toddler grows.

After your toddler eats lunch or a snack or drinks anything other than water, there’s a little residue left behind in their mouth. Bacteria in the mouth will feed on that residue, creating an acid that will wear away at the enamel on the teeth. The fluoride protects the teeth from that kind of potential damage. Science!

Toddler Teeth Development Chart

Children get teeth at different times, but their first teeth usually appear between 6 and 10 months. In some children, teeth appear as early as three months. In others, they don’t arrive until around 12 months. Baby teeth can arrive in any order, although the central bottom teeth are often first.

All 20 baby teeth will usually arrive by the time your child is three years old. The 32 adult teeth replace the baby teeth between the ages of 6 and 20 years (twenty! what the!). Please don’t compare your toddler’s teeth to other toddlers – check with your dentist if you are worried!

What Is The Best Toddler Toothpaste & Toothbrush?

You may have your own favorite toothpaste, but it’s a good idea to buy a children’s toothpaste­ for your toddler to use — and make sure it contains flouride for extra tooth protection, to protect against those cavities we just mentioned!

You know your child’s tastes, so check out the various flavors in the toothpaste aisle (yes, there’s many!) and select a children’s toothpaste that you think will appeal to them. It might be watermelon flavored or maybe even bubblegum flavored (vomit). Or, if you’re like a lot of parents, you know it’s important to choose the tube with the princesses on it (Delilah) — or the cars (Freddie).

And don’t forget the toothbrush. Pick one with a small head and soft bristles – a soft toothbrush is a must for toddler’s being newly introduced to tooth brushing – we don’t want to scare them off with pain! Consider asking your child if they have a preference for toothbrush color, since having their buy-in to the whole process can go a long way towards cooperation at brushing time.

How to brush my toddlers teeth: A wrap up…

Toddlers often don’t like brushing their teeth. But even a quick brush is better than nothing, because it helps your child learn that brushing teeth is a normal part of her daily routine.Thank you for making it this far with me. I hope that at least one of these tips & images resonates with you & your family when it comes to your toddler and their beautiful teeth!

We’ve had a look at the best way to brush your toddlers teeth, how to make it easier and why it is important. I’ve provided you with a tep-by-step guide to toddler teeth brushing, as well as a developmental teeth chart. Don’t forget to read the section on preparing for and taking your toddler to the dentist.

I hope it’s all been helpful – please comment below with any tips I may have forgotten! Be sure to check out my other helpful posts around toddler sleep & toddler food while you’re here!

Why Trust My Toddler Life

My Toddler Life is run by mama’s, for mama’s. All information provided on our site is thoroughly researched and takes in to consideration our lived experiences and the opinions of industry professionals.

How are we different from other sites doing the same thing? We have fun while doing it (often with a glass of wine in hand) and don’t take ourselves too seriously! We may use affiliate links in this post – rest assured, these do not cost you, our dear readers, any additional money to use – phew!


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