Specialist Community Paediatric Occupational Therapy
Advice and Information for Parents/Carers
For some children who are ‘Sensory Sensitive’ having their teeth brushed and visiting the dentist can be challenging and distressing. General activities that provide deep pressure to the body can be calming to the nervous system and help the child prepare for the challenging activity
Wrap your child firmly in a bath towel/blanket/duvet and give them a big bear hug and back rub
Massage around your child’s mouth and jaw using a warm face cloth
Use an electric toothbrush
Be aware that some toothpaste can be very strong in flavour; e.g. some children do not tolerate mint flavours so try strawberry or similar
Some children do not like the sensation of toothpaste foaming up in their mouths; in general toothpastes designed to tackle bad breath are less likely to foam.
Use visual aids and social stories to increase understanding of the task. Go through these aids with your child so that your child knows what is going to happen. Including tooth brushing as part of an evening and morning visual timetable will make the task an expected part of the normal routine
Give definite time limits to the task (e.g. “Let’s count to 10. Then we will stop brushing your teeth”). Use a sand timer or other visual aid
Use distraction and motivators: Give your child a fidget toy to squeeze during the task. Keep the fidget toy only for teeth brushing
Do not use any activities that you think would be detrimental to your child
The information sheets presented on this site were developed by Occupational Therapists primarily for use as a pre-referral resource. The website accept no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any activity ideas or treatment regimen detailed in the information sheets.