Suggestions for Brushing 1 Year Old Teeth

Updated on September 13, 2010
L.M. asks from Central Falls, RI
17 answers

My son just turned a year old and brushing his teeth is a huge issue for more than 30 seconds. He peirces his lips so tight i have a hard time. I try playing games I try singing songs i try brushing at night in the tub I try brushing at the sink I let him do it nothing seems to be working. Looking for things that worked for other Moms

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answers from Provo on

My son loves playing with toothbrushes. Have you ever just let him play with it? That might make him more welcoming to the fact that it's in his mouth. Are you using a baby toothpaste? That also might help it out since there is flavor there.

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answers from Savannah on

Just let him do it. Give him the tooth brush with some of that training toothpaste on it and let him have at it. No, he won't do a good job but he'll work on developing the skills to do it and it's better than nothing at all and a meltdown in the bathroom. After a few times, see if he'll let you in his mouth to see if he got all his teeth clean. If he refuses, let it be and try again in a few days. It will get better over time as he gets older.


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answers from Philadelphia on

Hi, I got help from Mamapedia on this issue, so definitely try searching this topic. Here is what I am doing now based on my own ideas and what I read here:

#1 is : I don't stress over the amount of time he brushes. As one grandma posted, she wasn't even encouraged to brush her kids teeth until 3 years old. I think right now we are just planting seeds for a healthy habit. My pediatricians have confirmed this.

Other things that have worked: I let my son brush my teeth as I brush his ( very tough as he likes to try to switch brushes!)

I make lots of sound effects during brushing. He likes bubbles so I tell him I am going to pop the bubbles in his mouth and then make dramatic "pop"s, or I look for the food that he ate "Where's the chicken? Where is it? BOK BOK- Oh! I got the chicken!" He now laughs when we brush, or at least gets involved.

I use a light touch and a soft toothbrush. I give him two different toothbrushes at each cleaning and we alternate between his turn and my turn at brushing.

Before I did all these things I used to give him his two toothbrushes and encourage him to drum with them like drumsticks during his favorite song. I think that helped take the seriousness out of the toothbrushes, taking away the feeling that those instruments were used on the toothbrushing battlefield!



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answers from Boston on

My son is the same way. What has helped me the most is the singing toothbrushes that play for the length of time they are supposed to brush. I got Thomas the Tank and Yo Gabba Gabba at Babies R Us and he loves them! He dances away while I try to brush. If he clenches up too tight than I start to tickle him which gets his mouth open long enough to finish. I also let him do too.


answers from Chicago on

A couple of ideas- get a spin brush, or a Firefly brush. The Firefly lights up for the time they are supposed to brush, the spin brush is really fun. We always tried to keep it light-hearted and fun. Recently we started telling my 3 year old that we can hear the germs crying as we brush, and that they start yelling "NO!" when he's rinsing his mouth. He thinks it's hilarious and it really keeps him wanting to brush. For a while there, we say ABC's, and would end it with something funny, like "won't you sing with Superman!" or something goofy. With a 12 month old, it's a little different. Can you set a timer and brush until it goes off, then give him a sticker? What does he really like? Give him that kind of reward.
My sister is a dentist and we know how important it is to get him accepting brushing early. Hang in there. The work you do on it now, will pay off for years to come.

Good luck!
Barefoot Books Ambassador



answers from New York on

I think I go the tip from this website actually, but hold him upside down. I know now it sounds funny, but do it in a funny way. and when you do- he should (my son did) open his mouth. Then you can brush. Sing a song while you do it or something so he doesn't get scared. My son would laugh and I would sing a song and get a nice good brushing. Good luck.



answers from Honolulu on

There's no way, a 1 year old is going to brush for 2 minutes. Which is the recommended time, per pediatric dentists.

Just that he is doing it, praise him.
The more you push, the more he will get upset.

OR, brush while he is watching tv and sitting down. That is what works for my son.

I also use, for my son, "Spiffies" teeth wipes.
It has Xylitol in it, which prevents cavities. I even use it myself.
My son likes it.
you can also get it on Amazon or CVS stores.
Spiffies, is way better than other tooth wipes I have tried.

good luck,



answers from Boston on

I took my son to the dentist, and ever since then, he has loved brushing his teeth! (we went primarily for the 4 year old, and I am sure it helps that he sees her doing her teeth!) But - after he brushes his teeth, I sit him on my lap facing me, and then lie him down on my legs so I can get in his mouth. (our dentist said I should be flossing my 15 month old! )

Good Luck!



answers from San Francisco on

I didn't start this until my daughters were a bit older, but we have them lie down on the floor. I lie over them. They generally don't squirm and they don't have anything to distract them. They sometimes play with my hair or jewelry. I do a better job because I'm looking into their mouths. I do remember that it was hard to establish, but since then, it's been really easy. Just keep telling yourself that brushing and flossing is a non-negotiable, like riding in a carseat. They are now 4 and 5 and I still do it at night, more because it's tough for them to floss. They brush themselves in the morning. Good luck!


answers from San Diego on

We have a couple of these banana brushes and allow my daughter to teeth on them whenever she wants to. She gets relief from the teething and the bristles brush her teeth. We then have a more traditional toothbrush. I really like the Mam toothbrushes that have an extra long handle so both you and your child can hold it at the same time and control it. I got mine at Babies R Us too but I can't find it on their website, I got it from a TRU/BRU store in person. I put a small smear of the flouride free trainer toothpaste on it just for a special taste to get it into her mouth. I then make whatever funny faces and songs I need to to get things in there.
I aways let me kids teeth on toothbrushes of some kind, that way if I couldn't get everything there was a higher chance of it getting cleaned by the teething relief.
I also brush on the changing table. I'm not using flouride toothpaste that they need to spit, and I'm using so little of it too, so it doesn't matter if they're by a sink. By the time they're old enough for flouride toothpaste the worst of the fights are over.



answers from Boston on

My 1 1/2 year old has given us a terrible time with brushing teeth since I can remember with him! My best advice is to just keep at it! I try to make it very silly and make him laugh. When he was a bit younger the only way to brush his teeth after he pierced his lips was to wait until he cried. Then I got right in there and brushed as fast as I could.



answers from Dallas on

Since nothing seems to be working, think of a time that is most convenient for you, and always be consistent with routine as to when you do this fun task. When my daughter was a year old, she was very interested in trying to do things herself, such as holding her own spoon at feeding time, and holding her toothbrush and 'brushing' at toothbrushing time. I bought two toothbrushes, let her hold one, and then after she 'brushed' I got in there and brushed her teeth for her. Same with feeding, she didn't want me feeding her without her being able to try to feed herself! So a spoon for her, and one for me :)



answers from Providence on

You have some awesome suggestions already. One other thing we did was tell him that the "sugar monsters" liked to hang out on his teeth and we needed to get them all out. If he opened up wide we could count them and try to get them all out. I would have him tell me how many he thought there were and then I would count them and be really silly about finding them. Also, 30 seconds is a pretty good time for a little one. Instead of trying to get a really long brushing at once just brush for thirty seconds more often. My daughter loves to brush and will brush four or five times a day.



answers from Cincinnati on

I think 30 seconds is great for a 1-year-old! Don't push so hard at this age. Teach him to brush his teeth every day and do what you can to get stuff off the surface of the teeth. As he ages, you can lengthen the amount of time he brushes, but don't turn it into a war at this age. If you can turn it into a positive experience (even if he doesn't brush very long), it'll go further in the long run. Good luck.



answers from Boston on

We had the same problem. Try a battery operated toothbrush (they have little kids versions) - the vibrations are just too cool not to try out for the babies!. Also, a dentist I know highly recommended using one - it cleans teeth fast and very effectively. The first time we gave it to my daughter, she could not stop brushing her teeth or letting us brush her teeth! Every night, she demands her teeth to be brushed and she is now 14 months. :) She loved it especially when her molars were coming in - the vibrations soothed the pain and she walked around for hours with a toothbrush in her mouth - ran out the batteries pretty quickly! But, boy, does she have clean teeth!


answers from Houston on

let him brush your teeth, then do hos, make it a game. our kids love the little electric kid toothbrushes, have you tried one of those?


let him brush your teeth, then do hos, make it a game. our kids love the little electric kid toothbrushes, have you tried one of those?



answers from Cleveland on

I've been there too! Some things that worked for us:

Letting him brush then mommy gets a turn.
Letting him brush my teeth while I brushed his (he'd get distracted and not even realize I was brushing his)
Telling him "say ahhh" and making it like a song.
Explaining that we couldn't read books (or go out in the morning) until he got his teeth brushed and then waiting (and trying really hard to be patient.)
Brushing teeth upside down or put him on the floor and pretend to sit on him, some kind of silly way.
Letting him look in the mirror.
Let him pick the toothbrush out at the store. (Elmo worked for us)

Not everything worked all the time and one day one thing would work, the next day it wouldn't, but now he's really good about brushing and then letting mom or dad had a turn. Good luck!

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