Brushing Your Toddler’s Teeth: Useful Tips You Need To Know

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Useful Tips You NEED To Know

Tooth brushing. A task we all must do. A chore many of us dislike. Toddlers are no different from us, but this is a non-negotiable, daily task. Brushing your toddler’s teeth might be a nightmare for both you and your child. It is in my house.

Nevertheless, your child’s teeth need to be cleaned to avoid dental health issues. And show off some cute pearly whites. But, how do you do that without wanting to rip out your hair and toss it in the towel?

Brushing Your Toddler’s Teeth: Useful Tips You Need To Know

Here is what you can expect to read:

Why is brushing your toddler’s teeth important?

General Tips for Brushing your Toddler’s Teeth

What to do if your toddler refuses to brush?

Reasons toddlers have a meltdown when brushing their teeth.

Help! My toddler is STILL refusing to brush his teeth?!

Why is brushing your toddler’s teeth important?

Dental and oral health is important for your general well-being.

When you don’t properly take care of your dental health, you can get cavities and gum disease.

Neglecting your dental and oral health can lead to serious health concerns. Some concerns are heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. states that tooth decay is a common dental concern in young children. 28% of toddlers have one or more cavities before age three. And 50% of children have one or more cavities by age five.

Why are there so many cavities?

Unfortunately, several parents believe that cavities in their children’s baby teeth do not matter.

Why? Because the teeth will fall out anyway.

But, baby teeth pave the way for permanent teeth. And, if cavities are deep enough, they can cause bacteria to enter the bloodstream.

Thus, teaching good dental habits from a young age is important.

General Tips for Brushing your Toddler’s Teeth.

  • Use a small-headed, soft-bristled toothbrush. This will fit in their mouth better and be gentle on their developing teeth and gums.
  • Use the smallest smear of fluoride toothpaste. The size of a grain of rice. Increase this amount to the size of a pea as your toddler gets older, grows more teeth, and becomes better at spitting.
  • Gently brush back and forth in circular motions for two minutes. 
  • Brush their teeth twice a day. Once in the morning. Once before bed.

What to do if your toddler refuses to brush?

When brushing your toddler’s teeth becomes a struggle, it is time to try a new approach. 

Brushing your toddler’s teeth may even become a fun time for you and your toddler. May. Results vary.

Below are tips shared by our family dentist to help with the toothbrushing struggle.

Things to try

Fluoride & non-fluoride toothpaste as we transition from stage 2 to 3. Two different flavors.
Choosing a toothpaste

Choose a different toothpaste. Your toddler may not like the flavor you have. 

Pro Tip: Let your toddler choose their own toothpaste. You can have 2 different flavors and let them decide.

image of two toothbrush choices. One is a standard toothbrush that is sized for a toddler's mouth. The other is a silicon half moon shape brush that makes cleaning quicker - brushing your toddler's teeth
Toothbrush choices that fit my toddler’s mouth.
Choosing a toothbrush

There are so many toothbrushes marketed to children. Regular. Electric. Different colors. Different characters.

Let your toddler choose to have a say with the toothbrush you buy. The simple act of letting them choose a toothbrush can make a huge, positive change.

Stick to a routine

Children thrive on routines. They like to know what to expect.

Brush your teeth at the same time

Children are known for parroting our movements and words. Brush your teeth at the same time to encourage your toddler to brush their own teeth.

Granted, it is important to brush your toddler’s teeth while young. Young children aren’t able to get the job done right.

Pro Tip: Let your toddler have time to brush their own teeth before or after you do it.

image of toddler brushing toy shark's teeth - brushing your toddler's teeth
Brushing his shark toy’s teeth before bed.
Brush a favorite toy’s teeth

Did I mention that children love choices? Cause they do. 

Let them pick a toy and give them a toothbrush to brush the toy’s teeth. 

Giving your toddler a sense of control while brushing their teeth can make a difference.

Have a toothbrushing song

Children love music. Having a special song for toothbrushing time can help.

As a bonus, these songs help the two minutes required for brushing to go by faster.

 In our house, we made up our own song. Chugga-chugga, chugga-chugga, Teeth-Teeth!

Watch a toothbrushing video

If your child has a favorite show, there is a high probability that there is a toothbrushing video.

Your toddler will make a connection with their favorite character(s) and toothbrushing. 

Read about brushing teeth

Just like watching a video, there are books to teach your child about tooth brushing.

Many of these books are fun picture books, pop-up books, and singing books. 

Bring out the stickers

Several parents use stickers for rewards. Rewarding your toddler with stickers can help them form a positive relationship.

Pro Tip: Let your toddler choose some stickers. They will more than let you brush their teeth for some good stickers.


There are several ways another adult can help you. 

They can distract your toddler. They can brush YOUR teeth while you brush your toddler’s teeth. 

Make it fun

Trying to make a mundane task fun may be challenging, but it can help. 

Try doing a dance, letting your toddler brush your teeth, or making silly voices/faces.

Pray to the tooth fairy

If all else fails, ask the tooth fairy for help! She is real, right? haha

Reasons a meltdown occurs when brushing your toddler’s teeth.

There could be several reasons why toddlers have meltdowns during toothbrushing time. 

This is what I have learned from observing my own toddler:

  • Toddlers like to have a sense of control.
  • Some toddlers have sensitive teeth.
  • Brushing teeth can cause sensory issues. It is an odd sensation, especially when they don’t have all their teeth.
  • Too much tartar buildup on their teeth, which can get under the gum and hurt. Ouch!

Help! My toddler is STILL refusing to brush his teeth?!


I know how frustrating a refusing toddler can be.

I’ve had days where I’ve had to hold down my toddler to brush his teeth. I hate it! But, it needs to be done.

It’s important for kids to have an understanding of good dental hygiene.

Keep in mind that it will get easier as they get older. It’s starting to get easier for us. One thing that REALLY helped was getting the Crayola Twistable Floss. It’s coated in fluoride and tastes yummy!

image of crayola twistable flossers - brushing your toddler's teeth
These have been a GAME CHANGER and make toothbrushing easier for everyone.

Final thoughts on brushing your toddler’s teeth.

Okay, I know this is a lot of information to take in. So, let’s wrap up!

Brushing your toddler’s teeth is an important task that needs to be done. It’s non-negotiable to skip a toothbrushing session in our home – with rare exceptions.

It gets easier as they get older, but some key takeaways are:

  • Toddlers like control and routine.
  • It gets easier as they get older.

Tell me below in the comments how brushing your toddler’s teeth goes for you and your child.

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2 thoughts on “Brushing Your Toddler’s Teeth: Useful Tips You Need To Know”

  1. Omg so true, It has been a struggle to brush my 2-year-old girl’s teeth recently, It did help when I change her brushing schedule and now she does it together with her brother and I had to change her toothbrush to Peppa Pig . thanks for sharing!

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