Healthy Habits: Establishing Toddler Dental Routines

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Although I’m WAY behind on my latest dentist visit, I know how important it is to take care of your teeth. I was pretty much devastated when I got my first tiny cavity at 27! I wanted to start early with the babies’ tooth care routine so it would be just that – routine. 

Building healthy habits: establishing toddler dental routines, routines for brushing teeth, toddler tooth brushing

Baby Dental Routines:
When the babies got their first little teeth at 7 and 8 months, I bought them these little banana and corn toothbrushes. They are toothbrushes and also teethers. The shape made them easy to hold and they still enjoy chewing on them now and then.Prior to getting their first teeth, I’d wipe their gums with a washcloth during baths. I hoped this would help them get used to the feeling of taking care of their mouths and be something they knew would happen every night (or when I remembered!).

Toddler Dental Routines:
Around their first birthday, when they each had 8 teeth, I got their first real toothbrushes. I bought Radius Totz because they were one of the only toddler toothbrushes at our Whole Foods but I’ve been pretty happy with them. I found colored Radius Totz toothbrushes on Amazon which makes it much easier to remember whose is whose! I got cheap travel brushes at the dollar store for visiting family and vacations but the Radius ones are much better. The head is wider and so is the handle so it is easier to hold.
Building healthy habits: establishing toddler dental routines, routines for brushing teeth, toddler tooth brushingOur routine is to brush when they get up in the morning and as I’m running their bath at night. My dad built the cutest little bench that we keep in the bathroom to sit during teeth time. Our family rule is to sit when you brush because I’m worried they’ll fall with their toothbrush in their mouth if they’re up and moving around (I have the same rule of walking with anything in their mouths!). At night, I use these little flossers to floss their teeth.
Building healthy habits: establishing toddler dental routines, routines for brushing teeth, toddler tooth brushingThey say "ahh!" and almost always let me get in there. Then I let them use the flossers by themselves (make sure you get the kind without a point at the end!). After flossing, I let them brush by themselves. Then I give them a once over to make sure they get all their teeth. 
Building healthy habits: establishing toddler dental routines, routines for brushing teeth, toddler tooth brushingOne thing we struggle with now and then is giving up the toothbrush at the end. Most often, they will just hand it to me when they’re done but sometimes they have a deathgrip on that little toothbrush. When this happens, I’ll ask them to rinse it and put it in the cup by themselves and they usually will. I also find saying "Okay! Time to say bye-bye toothbrush!" works really well to help them transition to being done. Problem (mostly) solved.

Heading to the Dentist:
I have read and heard a lot of mixed information about when to go for a first dentist appointment, which is something I would also like to incorporate into the babies healthy teeth routine. At our last check up, I asked their pediatrician and she said we can go any time. It will mostly just be to get used to going to the dentist but I think it's an important part of their dental hygiene routine. I was never afraid of the dentist and I don't want either of them to be either! I have started looking for a local pediatric dentist and a few books about the dentist to read with them. I'll let you know how our visit goes and which books were helpful!

I'm happy to say that building our healthy teeth routine has really worked for our family. More often than not, the first thing the babies do in the morning is head into the bathroom (and precariously climb the toilet to reach their toothbrushes). They almost always let us floss and brush without a fight. Here's hoping we can keep it up!

PS- sometimes we listen to Raffi’s Brush Your Teeth song while they brush so here it is for your listening pleasure! I promise it will get stuck in your head.

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