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Oral Care for Toddlers (18 to 24 Months)

Encourage your child’s life-long oral health.

Good dental habits during when a child is a toddler (18 to 24 months old) help to encourage your child’s life-long oral health.

Brush your child’s teeth for two minutes, twice a day - at bedtime and after breakfast. This sets them on the right foot every day.

Here is how to brush your child’s teeth:

  • Use a soft-bristled brush and brush gently. Brushing too hard can hurt your gums and teeth.
  • Be sure your toothbrush is the right size. The American Dental Association says that the size and shape of your brush should fit your mouth so you can reach all areas easily.
  • Tilt the bristles at a 45-degree angle to your teeth.
  •  Let the tips of the bristles get under your gums. Move the brush gently to remove plaque there.
  • Be sure to brush every tooth surface—the cheek side, tongue side, and chewing surfaces.
  • Gently brush every surface of your front teeth and gums. To do this, turn the brush to a straight up/down direction and make several up-and-down strokes on the top and bottom teeth.
  • Your toothbrush will only clean one or two teeth at a time, so move it to clean each tooth properly.
  • Take your time. The American Dental Association advises two minutes of brushing, twice per day.
  • Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste with fluoride.
  • Replace toothbrushes every three or four months.


Healthy Drinks and Snacks

Limit food between meals, especially sweet snacks. Sugar makes acid levels in the mouth to go up, and that can cause cavities.

Here is a list of healthy snacks advised by the American Academy of Pediatrics.


  • Apples, peaches, plums, pears (in very thin slices so they won’t cause choking)
  • Grapes, grape tomatoes, berries (smashed or cut in long pieces so they won’t cause choking)
  • Oranges, grapefruit sections (cut into pieces so they won’t cause choking)
  • Bananas (sliced in long pieces so they won’t cause choking)
  • Avocado (sliced)
  • Dried apricots, peaches, pears, dates, prunes, raisins (pits removed and cut into small pieces)
  • Canned fruits (rinsed off)

Cooked Vegetables

  • Carrots, green beans, cauliflower, broccoli
  • Yams or sweet potatoes (diced)
  • Peas (smushed)
  • Steamed spinach or greens (made into a liquid in the blender)
  • Rinsed-off canned vegetables


  • Plain yogurt
  • Cow’s milk or non-dairy milk
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cheese (in shreds or dices)

Juice has a lot of sugar, so create a drink with ¼ juice and ¾ water. Milk has sugar (lactose) that will stay in your child’s mouth overnight and feed the bacteria that can cause cavities. If your child likes to bring a bottle or sippy cup to bed, fill the container with cool water.

When and How to Visit the Dentist with Your Toddler

Like adults, children should go to the dentist every six months. 

Bring your child to the dentist if you notice any of these signs:

  • Small white spots on teeth
  • Swelling of the face
  • Tiny holes in the tooth enamel
  • Pain in the mouth
  • Teeth that hurt from heat, cold or sweets
  • Pain or sensitivity when chewing

Stay positive when preparing your child for their dental visit. Remind them that the dentist’s job is to make their smile bright and healthy by cleaning and counting their teeth. Don’t talk about pain or use the words "drill" or "shot." Stop brothers, sisters, and others from telling scary dentist stories.

Preventistry Pulse


The newsletter designed for anyone who wants to improve oral health for themselves, their families, customers or communities.