If you've ever had a morning battle with your child to get their teeth brushed so you can get out the door, you're among many parents. That said, it's incredibly important that your child has their teeth brushed at least twice a day. Until your child reaches 8 years old, they won't have the proper dexterity to do a good enough job brushing their teeth by themselves.
Regardless of whether your child is looking forward to it or not, keep in mind that it needs to get done. You'd never let your child sit in a soiled diaper just because they don't want their diaper changed, so you shouldn't allow plaque or food to sit on your kid's teeth just because they don't want them to be brushed.
Making it fun might help to avoid a fight. Like most things, routine is key.
Here are some tricks to get your kids excited about brushing:
- Let your toddler or child hold your toothbrush and brush your teeth while you hold their brush to brush their teeth. Usually, this is a fun way that they enjoy brushing.
- Ask your child to look in the mirror with their mouth open and pretend to see "sugar bugs", then proceed to brush.
- Purchase toothbrushes specifically designed to entertain children. Some connect via Bluetooth and kids can follow along on your phone while they brush.
- Offer small rewards for challenging toddlers after brushing – like stickers, reading a favorite book afterward, or holding a special toy.
- Using a (separate) toothbrush, brush the teeth of each of your child’s favorite toys after you brush your own. Talk about how important it is that their toy takes care of their teeth. Most toddlers, upon seeing how much their toy loves having their teeth brushed, will want theirs done also.
- How you ask can allow them to feel some independence. You might ask “Which toothbrush would you like to use?” instead of “Are you ready to brush your teeth?” or “Do you want to brush your teeth?” They'll feel involved in the decision and be more likely to cooperate.
If your toddler isn't swayed by any of these techniques, try using a piece of gauze to rub on his teeth. You can purchase pre-formed gauze pieces exclusively for this purpose. Your dentist may recommend using fluoride toothpaste once a day. If so, you'll only need a small dab.