With special needs come unique dental challenges – especially if the child you care for needs you to brush their teeth with them or for them. Kids want to wiggle. Kids want to play. And some kids may even associate tooth-brushing with physical pain.

And yet, you’ve got to keep those teeth clean to keep your kids healthy. If you’re brushing with a child with special needs, here are three tips to help you on your way.

Start early.

Some caregivers wait to brush – but if your child has teeth at all, you should be cleaning them. An early start’s especially important if your child has special needs that might make dental care uncomfortable or awkward at first because younger kids adapt and learn. The earlier you introduce a toothbrush into the routine, the easier it will be to develop comfort. That’s important whether or not your kids will be able to brush on their own someday.

Choose a comfortable position. 

If you’re brushing your child’s teeth for them, take time to think about the best way for you both to stand or sit. You’ll need to see your child’s mouth and help control their head – without discomfort for either of you. Often, standing behind your child while you brush works best. You could sit on a toilet seat if your child’s small. Or you could have your child lie down with their head on your lap while you sit on the floor. The best position is the one that works for both of you.

Make it pleasant.

Some kids with special needs can find tooth-brushing irritating, even painful at first. If you need help getting your child used to dental care, find ways to make a positive association. Try out different kinds of toothpaste until you find a flavor your child likes. Try brushing in front of a TV show or Youtube video. Or save a unique toy as a reward to play with when the nightly routine’s done.

Find a dentist for your special needs’ child.

VNA has been a trusted source of healthcare information for more than 100 years. If your child needs a dentist, we can match you with one who understands your child’s needs – and helps you find affordable insurance, too.

Just call (630) 256-7740 and ask for dental care.