Getting your Toddler to Brush

It’s important from an early age that children learn to brush their teeth, but it can seem like a fight every time you break out the toothbrush. Your child might bite down on the toothbrush or dodge your brushing efforts. Sometimes, it can result in an all-out tantrum during the nightly ritual. Here are some tips to make brushing an easier experience for everyone in the house.

Make it a family event. Kids like to do whatever their parents are doing. When you get out your toddler’s toothbrush, get out your own. While you’re brushing, it’s likely your child will start as well. Let your toddler practice brushing, but when it’s time for you to take over the reins, take turns brushing each other’s teeth. Your child will think it’s a fun game and link tooth brushing with a positive play experience.

Double up! Toddlers are exerting their independence at this age and will likely fight you for the toothbrush, insisting that they do it alone. Buy two toothbrushes and while they are playing with one, you can swoop in and start brushing with the other. Toddlers have the tendency to grab whatever you have, but this gives you the opportunity to just grab the other brush and continue. The double brush means you don’t need to fight for control.

Make it fun. Buying a toothbrush with a favorite cartoon character or color can pique your toddler’s interest enough to get started brushing. Let your child brush their toys’ teeth while you brush theirs. Or take turns brushing a teddy bear’s teeth between sections of their own teeth. Sing a tooth brushing song. If you’re not inspired to create your own, there are several songs that you can find on YouTube.

Try, try again. If your toddler fights tooth brushing the same time every day, try mixing it up. If you brush their teeth first and then give them a bath, try giving your child a bath and then brushing their teeth or even brushing your child’s teeth in the bath! Leave the toothbrush out during the day and when your toddler is washing their hands, they may show interest and you can do a quick brushing just to acclimate them to the experience.

Don’t think you have to stick with one method. Every day is different and your child’s approach about brushing will change on a day-to-day basis. Whatever you do, don’t give up. Dental hygiene is important at this early age, but more importantly, you’re teaching them a habit that they will have for the rest of their life. Learning to brush now means less pain and dental stress in the future. Eventually, your toddler will see this as something that’s part of growing up, and your positive attitude will help them enjoy it.

This article is brought to you by Dr. Cobb The Kid’s Dentist, an Olathe, Kansas provider of comprehensive, high- quality pediatric dental care. If you wish to make an appointment for a dental cleaning or evaluation, feel free to contact the office of Dr. David J. Cobb.

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