Use the lap-to-lap technique to make brushing easy

Infants and toddlers are squirmy - especially when parents are trying to brush their teeth.

How to convince a toddler to allow his or her parent to brush their teeth is one of the most commonly asked questions, usually at the child’s very first dental visit.

While some children seem to accept that they must brush their teeth, some struggle and resist so much that it can be very challenging or down right impossible if you aren’t familiar with some of the techniques we employ here at Monarch.

Lap to Lap technique

The lap to lap technique is easiest and most successful if done with two parents but can be modified and accomplished with one also. Like in the clinic during an exam with the dentist, one parent will sit with the child facing them in their lap, the second parent will sit with their knees facing the knees of the parent holding the child.

The child will lay back with their head in the lap of the second parent. The first parent will hold the child’s hands and speak to the child or distract them while the second parent brushes the child’s teeth from this optimal position above the child.

This technique doesn’t guarantee a cooperative child but it does ensure that the child’s teeth can be brushed properly and thoroughly because the parent doing the brushing will not have to worry about the child’s hands and will be able to guide head movement with the forearms.


Many children are happy to brush on their own, and even enjoy scrubbing their new teeth! A great way to encourage your child to allow brushing is to encourage them to brush before, but that mom and dad get to brush after.

A little reward also goes a long way! Barter with your child for an extra bedtime story if they will cooperate and allow you to brush and floss without a fuss before bed.

Create a routine

The best way to ensure successful brushing and a life-time of good oral health is to begin a twice daily dental routine of brushing and flossing from a young age. If brushing and flossing is done only sporadically and constantly a battle the child will not become used to the routine and is less likely to continue a good oral health ritual as they get older and become more independent.