If you’re a parent in general, you’ve probably dealt with the dental care battle. If your child love to brush and floss, I’m very happy for you. I am. I’m also jealous. We have the added element in our house of sensory processing difficulties which can make tooth-brushing leaving everyone involved exhausted, frustrated, and upset. And at the end of the day, we don’t want to battle out one more thing before winding down for sleep. Please remember that I’m not a dental professional, just a parent sharing what has and hasn’t worked with our kiddo.
So, today I’d love to share with you some of our best tools for making dental care effective, uncomplicated, and (almost) enjoyable.
Just a note, I will be linking products in this post for ease of shopping. They will be Amazon links, and if you choose to make a purchase you won’t pay anything extra, but the affiliate percentage helps me keep my blog running and content flowing. Thank you for your support.
I’m pretty sure we tried every toothpaste you could find in the Target dental aisle with our preschooler. Every bubblegum, fresh mint, razzle berry, strawberry banana, and sparkleyum flavor completely dwindled in it’s effect to make tooth brushing easier with our kid no matter what TV character or bright color was on the bottle. After talking it through with our dentist, we realized though that the sweetener in the “candy” flavors was too much input sensory wise for our kid. Also, while she can chomp an entire tin of Altoids, the mint flavors of toothpaste were too much input while she was also enduring the sensory input of tooth brushing. So, we found this lovely toothpaste by Tanner’s Tasty Paste. It only comes in Chocolate or Vanilla, but they are such soft, unassuming flavors that we are in love. I have the fluoridated version called “Vanilla Bling” for my preschooler, and the Vanilla “Baby Bling” that is Flouride-Free for my 18 month old. We have tried both the Chocolate and the Vanilla and because they’re so slightly sweetened with xylitol, it’s not overwhelming for either child. If toothpaste is part of your sensory threshold, I strongly suggest giving either flavor a try. I can’t imagine purchasing anything else now.
Like most parents, we tried a lot of toothbrushes. At the end of the day, here’s what we decided were our goals for making dental care the best experience for us:
- It needed to be effective.
- A soft brush head that is size appropriate for her mouth.
- Gentle movement with minimal auditory output.
- Light enough for her to handle herself.
- Guides that would teach her in the longterm how to brush on her own.
- Rechargeable with inexpensive brush head replacements.
For a while, this list seemed like an impossible one to fulfill. We tried the inexpensive princess spinbrushes (too loud and too rough on her gums). We tried the manual ones (not effective enough with how quickly she would hit her sensory threshold), and we tried the more expensive battery operated options (many you couldn’t replace the head on them or they were too large to fit her mouth comfortably). And then we found the Sonicare kids brush. This brush had everything. It even has replacement heads for $1.50 a piece (these ones are our favorite). If you already use the Sonicare for adults (we got ours from Costco years ago), it uses the same charger, and in our experience will hold a charge for 3 weeks with normal use. While we originally didn’t look at Sonicare as an option, we found that cost per use and per replacement head, it paid for itself quickly. As she gets older it is Bluetooth enabled to use learning guides on a parent’s cell phone, and has training tools built into the brush. It came with an assortment of 8 face plates to customize the design on the brush if you have more than one child using a Sonicare brush, and I love that it’s not a princess or trucks kind of thing for styling. All in all, we are extremely happy with our purchase. I cannot recommend this toothbrush enough.
Floss and Rinse
In general, we tend to use just an unflavored Wax floss for flossing with our little. She tolerates it well, and I don’t quite trust her with a floss pick yet. If you’re looking for an option for your little though, we have enjoyed this floss pick in the past:
The oral rinse of choice for us is this one by ACT in Pineapple Punch.
While we aren’t as loyal about using a fluoride rinse, we enjoy the flavor of this one and it’s been great while supervised to practice using an anti-cavity rinse.
I hope you found some tips today in this post for navigating dental care with our sensory little ones. Of course, sensory issues don’t stop when our children become teens or even adults. If you have sensory issues as a teen or adult I’d love to hear in the comments what has been helpful for you.