How do I get my toddler to brush their teeth?

Getting your children to brush their teeth can be as difficult as getting them to eat their vegetables. However, developing good oral hygiene habits in children while they are young is critical. Our Manitoba dentists have provided some advice.

On some days, your child may enjoy brushing their teeth, but on others, they may resist. It is, however, critical that your child brush their teeth at least twice a day. Your child will not have the dexterity to brush their teeth properly on their own until they are eight years old.

Always remember that it needs to get done, regardless of whether your child is looking forward to it or not. You would never allow your child to sit in a soiled diaper just because they don't want their diaper changed, so you shouldn't allow food or plaque to sit on your kid’s teeth just because they don't want them to be brushed.

There are times when it can be a fight, so try to make it fun. 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.
  • Brush the teeth of each of your child's favorite toys with a (separate) toothbrush after brushing your own. Discuss how important it is that their toy looks after their teeth. When most toddlers see how much their toy enjoys having their teeth brushed, they will want theirs done as well.
  • How you ask can give them a sense of independence. Instead of "Are you ready to brush your teeth?" you could ask, "Which toothbrush would you like to use?" "Would you like to brush your teeth?" They will feel more involved in the decision and will be more willing 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 Manitoba or Winnipeg dentists today.