Let’s talk about brushing our children’s teeth. As a mom of 6 I know how real the struggle can be. They can go from being an absolute dream to brush one day, to becoming a completely different kid with the chomping capabilities of a crocodile the next!
I find it especially cumbersome that nighttime brushing is our biggest battle after all my energy from the day is spent. Even after trying my best I have often worried:
- Is my child getting the proper amount of oral care? and
- Is my child always going to hate toothbrushing and struggle into adulthood with the habit?
Enter Dr. Taylor McFarland, otherwise known as The Mama Dentist. She has the crossover experience of being both a dentist and a mom to three kiddos. After discovering her on TikTok, I found that she also has a phenomenal Instagram and a treasure trove of videos on her Youtube channel. She has helped break down the oral care struggles we have both as adults and as parents.
There is a reason why we LOVE pediatric dentists so much! ❤️❤️❤️
The information is game-changing. From helpful tips on making toothbrushing easier, product recommendations (if your child has an aversion to “spicy toothpaste,” for instance), to how to help aid in the proper development of your baby’s mouth and teeth. If you have a question or concern, chances are The Mama Dentist has an answer!
We recently implemented the tips we came across in a video The Mama Dentist did on YouTube. It was like pressing “Refresh” on our dental care routine, and I’m confident it’ll give you great ideas for your own little one’s dental needs. Here were our favorite takeaways.
10 Tips for Brushing your Child’s Teeth
Gleaned from this excellent video by The Mama Dentist (you can watch the full video here)
The Mama Dentist recommends giving yourself about 2 weeks to work toward the goal of morning and nighttime brushing).
(This will allow you a “Scaffolding Period” for building the foundation of a positive relationship with toothbrushing.)
Tip 1: Early Introduction
Introducing oral care early, before they even have teeth, is ideal. The Mama Dentist recommends using a washcloth (maybe at bath time) and wiping their gums, their cheeks, and their tongue. Then, once they have teeth, introduce a bristled toothbrush. Also, have your baby’s first dental visit by their first birthday or within 6 months of their first tooth, whichever is earliest.
Tip 2: Positive Associations
Bring in things that they like at toothbrushing time, whether that be a song, game, TV show, app (like the Disney Magic Timer by Oral B, Pokémon Smile, or the Hum app designed to go with their toothbrush), or favorite book.
Tip 3: Consistency and Predictability
The Mama Dentist recommends trying it first with consistency; the same person and same time of day. She also recommends talking about it beforehand and validating their emotions, whatever those may be about toothbrushing.
Tip 4: Give Sense of Control & Autonomy
Once you’ve given a sense of routine, start adding in choices with your child. Ask them questions like:
Who do you want to brush your teeth? What type of toothbrush and flavor of toothpaste do you want? What favorite app/game/book do you want to use? Do you want to brush first or me?
She also wisely adds a PSA to be very careful when giving them their turn by making sure that they are supported and not unsupervised with the toothbrush. A child should not ever walk or run with a toothbrush in their mouth.
I highly recommend you watch the video, There’s the sweetest demo of toothbrushing with her 18-month-old daughter. 💕
Tip 5: Behavior Modeling
Go ahead and show your kids your brushing/flossing routine or maybe have an older sibling demonstrate. Another thing that could get the family involved is having the older siblings check the teeth of the younger kids afterwards.
Tip 6: Novelty/Fun
Make toothbrushing time a fun, silly, and safe game. She likes singing a song, telling a story, or playing pretend. Sometimes she’s a dinosaur or a robot brushing her daughter’s teeth and it just really engages her 18-month-old. One of our family’s favorite games to play is the Sugar Bug Game, which is a variation of our flossing sugar bug hunt game, where we pretend to blast the sugar bugs with the toothbrush.
Tip 7: Pretend Play
Work with the child’s stuffed animals and have the child practice the brushing routine while you talk through it. It’s so stinking cute!
Tip 8: Positioning
It is important for safety to get good, stable head control. Sometimes that means also switching where you are brushing, i.e.: the floor, standing up, sitting by the sink, sitting in a chair, sitting in a high chair, or lying in your lap.
Tip 9: Use Books, Shows, Apps
The Mama Dentist has some great resources on her website, including one of our family favorites, the book “Brush, Brush, Brush.” And again it’s just helping to make the whole experience enjoyable and something your child looks forward to.
Tip 10: You Don’t Have To Brush for Two Minutes!
This was such a huge relief as a parent, because that 2-minute timer was hard to achieve for some of my own kiddos, especially in the baby stage. She recommends about 5 seconds per tooth that they have.
Working up to the two minutes is ideal, but what you're looking to do is brush the fronts, the backs, and the biting surfaces. Sometimes when you have a little one, a triple-sided toothbrush can go a long way! She also recommends in this 2-week building period adding a little more time each day to really get to that 2-minute time mark.
She really encourages that the goal with the routine is an overall positive experience with your child’s oral care. Just like an adult who maybe falls asleep on the couch trying to watch a movie and wakes up in the middle of the night to realize “uggggghhh, I’ve got to brush my teeth now” (not that I’m speaking from personal experience), your child might also struggle from time to time, but it’s about building that positive relationship that helps keep a consistent routine that leads to overall better oral health.
Absolutely, The Mama Dentist is someone who is worth following across all social channels and has personally helped give resources to my husband and I for helping up our family’s oral care game!
If brushing time is still something you dread, we hope you checkout one of our newest products: The Brushing Buddy
***I was personally over the moon when we were able to collaborate our own Brushing Buddy with The Mama Dentist. We’ve used it personally for our younger sons, and it’s helped with the consistency. And since it’s in the shape of a dino, it made it more fun for them.***
@themamadentist Find both in mySHOP 🛒 and be sure to check out my 🎥 YouTube video with 10 Toothbrushing Tips! #houndstooth #babyhealth #newmomtips #pediatricdentist ♬ original sound - nostalgia central🎶