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Toddler Tooth Care

I sat down with Presley’s pediatric dentist, Dr. Mary Shannon, she’s a mom of two kids herself and she has the best advice for toddler tooth care.

What age do I start brushing their teeth?

  • As soon as kids have teeth that’s when you want to get in there and start brushing.  They may not open and that’s okay, it doesn’t mean you don’t brush. The more consistent you are the more the children are going to know that this is just what you do.

What about toothpaste?

  • Under 1-year-old you don’t have to use toothpaste, you could just do it with a wet toothbrush. After 1, you definitely want to start with toothpaste and just a little smear where you barely see the color.  It’s okay if they chew and suck on the toothbrush. They don’t need to spit it out.

How often should I brush?

  • Ideally, twice a day. Nighttime is the most important.

How do I get my kid to brush?

  • If you have the type of child who wants to do everything themselves have them make the choices, “which toothbrush would you like to try?” Let them take their lead and do their own brushing. Tell them mommy needs to practice too. If your child is just having a rough time and they’re not cooperating with you right after the whole process, offer them a reward such as 5 minutes of extra reading time. Try to end on a good note. Especially with young ones they know once that song is done you’re done.

How often do I have to floss?

  • Everyday. The toothbrush isn’t going to clean in-between. The bacteria that cause cavities can still get between the teeth. The easiest floss to use especially for little ones are the little floss sticks. Be gentle about it; kids have tight teeth. Don’t push, just gently try to ease your way in there and floss where the teeth are touching.

What foods to avoid?

  • The main thing is sticky carbohydrates like raisins or any kind of dry fruit, goldfish crackers, or even graham crackers. Juice is okay, but take it during meal time and water down the juice a bit  – half water, half juice. If you’re having the juice during meal time you’re neutralizing those sugars with other foods so it’s not cavity-causing.



Elle Walker is a co-founder at What's Up Moms and the mom to three kids (7, 4, 2). In her spare time, she loves testing out kids activities (often muttering, "Pinterest, you lie"), to find the best play that minimize set-up, reduce costs, and uses stuff up around the house.