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  • Let your child pick out their own soft, child-sized toothbrush.

  • Develop a predictable routine for when and how to brush. For example, they could decide to always start with the top teeth and to brush from left to right, front to back. A consistent brushing pattern will help your child motor plan this complex activity and learn to predict when and where they will feel various sensations.

  • Model proper tooth brushing, and as you brush, make it fun. Brush teeth together and have a race; whoever brushes longer, wins. Use a two-minute timer.

  • Children with sensory issues may react negatively to foam in their mouth; you could try non-foaming toothpaste.

  • To desensitise gums, provide tactile input: try using a vibrating toothbrush, battery operated/ electric toothbrush, or a vibrating toy on the outside of the mouth near the jaw. You could also try providing frim but gentle pressure on the gums on the outside of the mouth with a flannel.

  • Let your child chew on a damp flannel before and after meals if she resists tooth brushing.

  • Try using a lot of water: wet the toothbrush between every few strokes.

  • Let your child adjust the water temperature if that makes them more comfortable.

  • Lots of children react very positively to vibrating and battery operated/ electric toothbrushes, finding them calming, easy to use, and fun. Make sure you use the ones with smaller heads designed for children. Some makes of toothbrush have quiet motors, which are great for children who are sensitive to certain noises.

  • Help your child to balance while brushing their teeth, they could either sit in a chair or you could stand behind them to give them stability.

  • Use very mild-flavoured toothpaste.

  • If your child is very sensitive, consider using a flannel with toothpaste to wipe the teeth if they are unable to tolerate brushing.

Useful resources:
Raising A Sensory Smart Child by Lindsey Biel and Nancy Peske
Building Bridges Through Sensory Integration by Ellen Yack, Paula Aquilla and Shirley Sutton.

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