Tips For Brushing Teeth With Sensory Processing Issues!
Does your toddler refuse to brush their teeth? Do they gag, cry, throw a tantrum or have other physical reactions to tooth brushing? My child went through a couple different phases of tooth brushing. Basically from cooperation to an all-out resistance! There can be many different factors and reasons for a child’s avoidance of tooth brushing. Determine if there is a possibility of the issues are sensory processing related or if it is just more of a behavioral phase. Is it an independence “I want to do it!” issue or are there sensory processing issues?? There very well may be some hypo- or hyper-sensitivity and oral defensiveness going on. Read below for my Tips For Brushing Teeth With Sensory Processing Issues!
My daughter has gone through a few different stages of sensory processing issues (sensitive to hair brushing, refusal of pants/shorts, socks with seems, etc.). Then all of a sudden she hated brushing her teeth. After wanting to pull my hair out in frustration…I realized this could be another sensory processing issue. So, I quickly researched sensory processing problems associated with brushing teeth. See what I found out below.
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Tips For Brushing Teeth With Sensory Processing Issues:
- Sometimes it’s the taste of the toothpaste that is bothersome. First try changing the toothpaste brand then try using less toothpaste, or start without using any toothpaste. Some kids don’t like the taste of peppermint and can perceive it to be a painful, burning sensation. Therefore, try different flavors of toothpaste, such as bubblegum, strawberry, orange, etc.
- Sensitivity to teeth-brushing may be a hypo- or hyper-sensitivity issue. Experiment with more than one of these tips until you find something that works.
- Some children may find the sensation of the bristles uncomfortable. Try using a brush with extremely soft bristles or silicone bristles. Children with sensory issues with “light touch” typically have this issue.
- The Banana brush is a baby training toothbrush that has short bristles made of silicone that can help to desensitize.
- While reading the book The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder (great read b.t.w.) it discussed trying an electric vibrating toothbrush. An electric vibrating toothbrush can make tooth brushing not just “fun” but sometimes they need to have that deeper touch. So, feeling the vibrations creates a tolerable and enjoyable experience. This has been a game changer!! First time I introduced a vibrating toothbrush to my daughter she loved it. Literally, she brushed her teeth 4 times that first day!
- If a toothbrush is not at all accepted, you may need to start by helping them to wipe their teeth clean using a damp wash cloth.
- Also, consider the temperature of the water. Have you always brushed their teeth with cold water? If so, try adjusting the temperature with warmer water. Your child may be sensitive to the cold water and tolerate a warmer temperature better.
- Lastly, try brushing in front of a mirror. This might help your child feel more in control. Visually being able to see the tooth brushing process can help, as opposed to facing them and they cannot see what’s going on. My daughter does much better when facing the mirror.
I hope you find some of these strategies or tips helpful for those children that have sensory processing issues and difficulty brushing their teeth. If you enjoyed this post, check out some of my sensory activity posts, try my Ice Sensory or Fluffy Slime!
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