The toddler years can be challenging times for parents. Kids are so busy exploring the world around them and finding new ways to play, they don’t want to be bothered with having to stand still long enough to brush their teeth or with having to keep up with a recommended toddler dental care routine. It is during this time that many children are compelled to give up their pacifiers, which can turn into a long and grueling battle for parents. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, any habit of sucking on a thumb or pacifier should end by age three. By setting an early precedent for conscientious dental care and by trying to make brushing a fun part of the day, parents can help to establish lifelong healthy oral care habits.
Make Toddler Dental Care Fun
Toddlers should brush at least twice per day with the assistance of an adult. A pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste is appropriate for kids ages two to five who are able to brush without swallowing. With so many children’s toothpastes available, choosing one with a mild, kid-friendly flavor will encourage toddlers to brush. Try singing a song or making a game to stretch out brushing time, and always help young children. At this early age, they have not developed the manual dexterity to brush correctly.
Visit the Dentist
The toddler years are also a great time to begin regular dental checkups. Visit a pediatric dentist as often as recommended, usually twice per year, and be honest about any dental issues that your child has. If your child still relies on a pacifier, a pediatric dentist can provide you with some tips on how to break the habit. The dentist will also examine your child’s teeth and provide guidance on what areas need to be brushed more thoroughly to prevent cavities.
Encourage a Dental-Healthy Diet
Toddlers eat a wider variety of food than infants, so adding healthy choices such as calcium-rich cheese, fruits and vegetables will enhance your child’s oral health. Cut back on fruit juice, and encourage your child to drink water. Limiting sugary sweets also helps to avoid cavities.
As your child grows and develops a unique personality, you may notice some resistance to the development of a nightly dental routine. By employing parenting strategies to instill proper toddler dental care at an early age, you will help your child to develop proper oral care habits that will last a lifetime.