Just when you thought you had this whole mom thing under control—boom!—your kid pops some teeth and has you (once again) thrown for a f*cking loop. Yes, on top of feeding them, changing them and making sure they don’t kill themselves, you’re tasked with the seemingly impossible job of brushing their choppers each and every night. No matter how much you hate to do it, cleaning their mouth and gums before they go to bed at night, sometime after putting on pajamas and before reading a bedtime book, is super important.
So pretty much as soon as your kid pops their first pearly white, it’s time to get down to business and practice oral hygiene. And as their teeth erupt and grow, you’ll need to be fully equipped with all the right dental accoutrements: namely a soft bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Otherwise, bacteria can break down simple carbohydrates and lead to cavities, explains Morvarid (Mori) Aletomeh, D.D.S., pediatric dentist at Pearly Smiles Pediatric Dentistry, Torrance, California. “The soft bristles will move the biofilm and bacteria away from the gumline and teeth, so be sure to go close to the gums and be gentle,” explains Dr. Aletomeh.
And don’t forget about the floss and mouth rinse! “You, as parents, have to be the detective to see when flossing is needed!” she says. “Some kids have fantastic spaces between their teeth and don’t need to floss, others have snug teeth and definitely need Mom and Dad to help with flossing.” As for mouth rinse, she only recommends it when kids are at the age that they can spit (usually around 6 or 7 years old).
Okay so, as you can tell, your kid needs more than a toothbrush to avoid dreaded dental anxiety by age five. Here are some of the dentist-recommended products you’ll want to stock up on for your tiny flosser.
If Elmo is on the front cover of a product, chances are, your kid will be open to the idea of using it—even if it’s toothpaste meant to be used on that toothbrush she hates (if this is the case you need to keep reading). If Elmo doesn’t sell them, maybe the berry flavor will. This toothpaste, made by teething pain-fighting brand Orajel, is free of alcohol, parabens, aspartame, dyes, sugar, SLS, dairy, gluten, you name it—and perfectly safe for use by young babies ages 3 months through 4 years. It’s also fluoride free which means if they swallow, you don’t have to freak out. It’s called training toothpaste for a reason.
Just the picture of this toothbrush (and app that syncs up to it) alone is enough to entice your child to brush their choppers. It turns a menial task into a fun gaming experience, which is pretty darn impressive in our book. The Magik mobile app features a toothbrush timer so your child knows how long to brush for as well as a dashboard so Mom and Dad can keep dibs on how well he’s doing. What’s more: the app helps teach kiddos how to properly brush their teeth and form better dental habits, so you can take your teacher hat off for a few minutes at least. It comes with the brush, a toothbrush holder and a phone holder.
One rave review said, “if you are like me that has a child that HATES brushing their teeth then I highly recommend this! My 4yr old was so excited to brush his teeth after he got this. He brushes in the morning for 2 full min and the same In the evening. After the kill all the monsters on their teeth they get to use diamonds and stars to buy new masks and backgrounds for their pictures. There is a patental app along with it showing me if he brushes twice a day and how well he brushed. All in all this was a GREAT purchase!”
Most pediatric dentists and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommend fluoride use. However, that’s a choice that is personal to each household, according to Dr. Aletomeh. So for the parents that are looking for other options, she sends them in the direction of this mildly flavored toothpaste that is fluoride free and natural. It’s recommended for children under the age of 6, but is safe for kids and adults of all ages. So if you’re also into the watermelon flavor, you might want to stock up on a few of these. If you are looking for a fluoride version, their Blue Raspberry is also a winner amongst kids!
If you’re looking for a more eco-friendly solution for brushing your child’s choppers, you’ll love this top-rated brush made out of bamboo. It’s about as earth friendly as it gets—made from naturally abundant bamboo, which actually has a higher tensile strength than steel (so it’s sure to get those pearly whites nice and clean), and it’s of course natural in every way, so it’s free of all those sketchy chemicals like BPA and phthalates. Each pack comes with 4 brushes with different color heads, so if you have more than one kiddo you’re looking at a couple packs a year and you’re golden. This teaches the kids about oral health and global health from a very early age, but nothing wrong with starting young!
The easiest way to get your kid to use mouthwash is to buy one that tastes delicious—although don’t forget to remind him not to swallow it! This one by Crest has a yummy bubblegum flavor and is free of alcohol. It’s meant for ages 6 and up, which is the age that Dr. Aletomeh usually recommends introducing a fluoride rinse. “It should be the last step to their oral hygiene routine—brush, floss and then rinse! There is also a Strawberry Rush flavor which is equally sweet and delicious to the kiddos. Don’t worry, they’ll appreciate mint later in life.
As much as you hate the whole teething thing, you might as well get used to it, since your kid’s going to be doing it until they enter fifth grade (yeah, seriously). But that first year is literally the worst, which is why a toothbrush/teether combo can really come in handy. This one is made for babies ages 0-12 months and is shaped like an adorable butterfly so your babe will automatically be interested. It has soft gentle silicone bristles that help relieve that teething pain and is made from 100 percent food-grade silicone (BPA-free, of course). It’s even dishwasher-, fridge- and microwave-safe. And if you ever discovered how much a teething bb loves freezing cold things on their gums, you’ll appreciate the fridge-friendly factor (followed by a wash in the dishwasher).
Brushing is one thing, but flossing is a whole new ball game that kids, well, hate. In a desperate attempt to make the process easier for us parents, this company did the unthinkable: turned little flossing sticks into mini nunchucks for your kids enjoyment (and your entertainment). “Kids love the characters, trading cards, and the challenge of mastering the skill of using GumChucks,” says Lana Rozenberg, D.D.S., New York City-based dentist. Once you have the starter kit, you’ll need a bag of floss tip refills, each bag of 36 will last you a full month at least. They deliver a floss in the enviable C-Shape, which is recommended by most dentists, according to Dr. Rozenberg.
If your child is considered a “big kid” and prefers to be treated like one, there’s no shame in getting him an electric toothbrush. If you go this route, Dr. Rozenberg recommends going big or going home. She’s a huge fan of power brushes for kids and young adults alike. “Hands down, power brushes do a better job removing plaque biofilm than manual brushing, regardless of brand,” she says. This one is Bluetooth-enabled and interacts with your child through a fun and educational app. It teaches your child how to brush and how long to brush so you don’t have to. It also comes in blue and pink, so each kid can have their own. Win, win!
Looking to stock up on more kids gear? We’ve got you covered with the goods that’ll help make your day-to-day go more smoothly.