13 Secrets for Brushing Your Toddler’s Teeth
Here are 13 tips to help get your toddler used to brushing their teeth.
Start by letting your child choose their own toothbrush and toothpaste. This allows them to feel involved in the process from the beginning and gives them something to look forward to about brushing their teeth.
For your own sake, accept that it won’t be a perfect brush at first–or even for a while. Take small steps and work on getting your child used to cleaning their mouth. This could mean setting goals of 30 seconds at first, then 60 seconds, and so on, before finally working up to the full 2 minutes of recommended brushing. You can also take a few weeks of just brushing your child’s teeth in the evening, then eventually introducing them to morning brushing.
Let your child brush their own teeth too. Demonstrate good technique, then let them try it for themselves. In this age when children begin to experiment with autonomy, use opportunities like this to share control in a supervised setting.
The best way with kids can sometimes be through leading by example. Show your kiddo there is nothing to worry about, that clean teeth are for everyone, and also get in an extra brush for yourself. Even let them practice brushing your teeth to see what it’s like.
To make the time more fun, pick your child’s favorite song or introduce a new one to sing with them while brushing their teeth. Let them know that when the song is finished then their teeth are all clean. As you progress to longer brushing, work up to singing the song through twice.
Call out each food that your little one ate that day as you brush. Make a game of scrubbing each cracker and piece of fruit out. In moments of distraction, ask them to help you remember what else they ate that has to be brushed away.
A battery-powered toothbrush can not only make the teeth brushing process more fun for some kids, but it also helps teach them the ideal circular movements and length of brushing time.
For some kids, brushing in the tub helps them focus, or allows them to be distracted. This space may help parents keep them contained, and it also connects clean skin and hair with clean teeth.
Does your child have bath toys that could use some oral care? Join toys in the fun, and take turns brushing between child and toy, and even let your child choose which toy gets its teeth cleaned first.
Keeping little hands busy will help with just about any task, so give your toddler something to hold. This object can be another toothbrush or a favorite toy. This keeps both hands and attention occupied and makes the brushing time more interesting for them.
As parents, be sure to praise your child for their good brushing habits. On visits to the dentist, have your dentist encourage your child as well. Outside encouragement always helps reinforce the importance of brushing teeth.
Brush your toddler’s teeth at the same times every day. Once it becomes part of the plan, just like everything else, it can be easier to accept and understand that when teeth are brushed, the next part of the day can begin.
Depending on their age and development, some children can talk to you about what they don’t like about brushing their teeth. Try asking and see what your child says. Maybe you are moving too fast or too slow, or their gums are sensitive, or perhaps they are feeling rushed out of a different part of the daily routine. Let your child know you are open to trying things differently.
Experiment with brushing your toddler’s teeth to find something that works well for the both of you. Remember, insufficient teeth cleaning can lead to major dental problems when your little one is older, so, whatever it takes, be sure to get those little chompers brushed!