How do I get my toddler to brush their teeth?

Trying to get your kids to eat their vegetables and brush their teeth - both of these tasks can be tricky. However, it's critical for them to form good oral hygiene habits in their youth. Our Winnipeg dentists offer some tips in this post. 

On some days, your child might enjoy the toothbrushing experience. But, we often hear from parents that one of the most frequent battles they have with their young ones is over toothbrushing. However, it's incredibly important that your child has their teeth brushed at least twice every day. Until your child reaches about eight years old, they won't have enough dexterity to do the job of brushing their teeth correctly on their own. 

Always keep in mind that it needs to get done, regardless of whether your child is looking forward to it or not. 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. 

While there are times when it can be a fight, there are some tips you can use to help make it more fun. Like most things, routine is key to success. 

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 impressed with any of these methods, try using a piece of gauze to rub on his teeth. There are some pre-formed gauze pieces just for this purpose. If your dentist recommends using fluoride toothpaste once a day, just a dab is all that is necessary.

If you would like to learn more tips about brushing your toddler's teeth, contact our Winnipeg dentists today


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