How To Get Toddler To Brush Teeth: 7 Helpful Tips For When They Refuse

How To Get Toddler To Brush Teeth

If you have a toddler, you have probably experienced the nightmare that can occur when trying to get your child’s teeth brushed. It can be even more stressful trying to convince your toddler that brushing their teeth is essential for oral health and preventing tooth decay.

Even if you manage to succeed in doing all of that, you still have to persuade your little ones to brush their own teeth.

Tooth brushing can feel like wrestling an alligator and a time of day that you start to dread rather than look forward to. But it doesn’t have to be.

This article will highlight how to get toddler to brush teeth with some ideas and strategies to instill good habits when it comes to oral hygiene, even in the youngest of little ones.

Don’t Put it Off

It’s very easy to decide that brushing teeth simply isn’t worth the fight. Your toddler’s teeth can wait until tomorrow. After all, they are baby teeth, and they’ll fall out, so what’s it matter if your child’s teeth aren’t super clean?

Deciding that you’ll deal with it later rather than deal with the headache and struggling toddler can lead to you spending lots of time and money fixing things like cavities and sore gums later. Baby teeth do matter, and brushing teeth is something that you should teach your child as soon as your child is able to brush their teeth independently.

Independent toothbrushing starts with good habits and good examples.

When do you start brushing baby’s teeth?

Not all babies get teeth at the same time. Some babies teethe early, while some can be as old as twelve months before they get their first chomper.

The average age for a first tooth for a baby is six months, and you should certainly begin actually brushing their tooth or teeth as soon as they have one.

Infant Tooth Brushing

Your child’s life will be full of first experiences, and as long as you introduce the ones necessary for health and hygiene early, they will most likely become your child’s norm.

You can start oral care even before your infant has any teeth and has nothing in that cute little mouth but pink gums and drool. It is suggested by many in the field of pediatric dentistry that you begin brushing the gums of babies from birth.

An infant toothbrush can come in all sorts of designs and shapes. Usually absent of bristles, an infant toothbrush typically has small nubs made of silicone that you use to gently brush or massage the gums with.

This can help stimulate the gums, provide soothing relief to a teething baby, and get your little one used to the feeling of something in their mouth that they aren’t supposed to eat.

how to clean toddlers teeth

How to get toddler to brush teeth

There are many ways to incorporate brushing your toddler’s teeth into their bedtime routines so that it becomes just another part of the day. Routine and regularity are what works best for most children, especially toddlers, so try to brush their teeth every day at around the same time.

The following are some tips and tricks to get your toddler brushing their own teeth in no time without wanting to rip out your own hair in the process.

1. Select a good fluoride toothpaste

Most experts in the field of pediatric dentistry suggest that you include a small amount of fluoride toothpaste to your toddler’s toothbrush. You won’t need any more than a smear or a dab to brush their teeth with. A pea-sized amount is often the suggested comparison.

To make your toddler feel like they have some control over the situation and avoid the power struggle that can ensue, take your little one to the store and let them pick out a toothpaste flavor.

Many tubes of toddler toothpaste even come with their favorite cartoon characters, singers, or famous personalities on them. This may cost a little extra, but most parents will agree that it’s worth an extra dollar or two to maintain sanity during this process of brushing time.

2. Fun toothbrushes

Just like with the toothpaste, most toddlers love the experience of selecting their own toothbrush. Let your child hold them in the store, give them a few different options that are appropriate for their age, and repeat several times that this is for them to clean their teeth with.

If it’s within your budget to do so, there are also many options for a toddler electric toothbrush. These are great because many of them have built-in timers, and if mommy or daddy has an electric one, it’s an added bonus of feeling even more like a “big kid.”

Select one and purchase it and make it an exciting trip and experience. If the selection of the tools needed is fun for the child, brushing will be less likely to be a negative experience. Many parents prefer that. It creates less stress for the adult, and your child can have pearly whites and beautiful smiles after peacefully learning good brushing habits.

3. Make it routine

Children thrive when given a regular routine. Incorporate brushing teeth into their daily routine as soon as you can, and it will quickly just become another part of the day for your toddler.

For example, every night, you have dinner, playtime, dessert, or a snack. After a snack, they have a bath, get into pajamas, brush their teeth, then a bedtime story, and finally off to bed.

Stick with the same routine all of the time, and your kids will thrive. Also, do this with trips to see the dentist. If it’s a regular thing that you do, rather than something you only do when something is wrong with a tooth, then it’s far less scary for kids.

4. Include their favorite stuffed animal

Stuffed animals are comfort objects for many kids. Like a talisman to ward off any bad vibes or fears, kids feel better when their stuffies are with them. So try encouraging your toddlers to bring their favorite toy with them when brushing their teeth.

It works best if the animal or doll has a mouth. You can take the dry toothbrush and “brush” the teeth of the doll and encourage your kids to do the same.

While this occurs, the parent should say warm and encouraging things such as, “Look! Your tiger loves having his teeth brushed! Now his teeth are so shiny and strong!” or “You’re doing such a great job on Princess Jade’s teeth! Her smile will be beautiful for the ball!”

5. Lead by example

Parents should be a part of the action. If two adults think it’s cool to be brushing their teeth before bedtime, then toddlers will find it even cooler.

Invite the entire family into the bathroom to clean their mouths. If a parent or older children are a part of the action before bed, then it creates a family experience that is fun rather than traumatizing.

How to get a toddler to clean teeth

6. Sing a fun song

Most kids love music. It’s not usually too difficult to get kids excited about music, from their favorite cartoon theme song to a favorite pop song on the radio and everything in between.

One of the more fun tips for the job of teaching your child to brush is to sing while doing it.

The importance of good oral health is something that most little ones don’t understand through simple explanations. You know that taking care of your teeth is essential, but all they want is something fun they can participate in.

Toddlers should ideally brush their teeth two times a day (once in the morning and once at night) for two minutes. You can set a simple timer, or you can find literally any two-minute song and make it more fun.

Change the song up when your child gets bored or unimpressed with the current song selection, but keep it a fun and musical experience involving a toothbrush.

7. Don’t use scare tactics

Don’t resort to scare tactics if you feel like you’ve tried everything and your child still doesn’t want to pick up that toothbrush and brush with it.

You’re frustrated, you’re losing patience, and you’re running out of ideas. It’s totally normal to think that, as a last resort, freaking your kid out about having to brush will work.

Resist this urge. It will backfire.

“If you don’t brush, then you’ll have to go to the dentist and get all of your teeth pulled.”

“The monster in your closet only eats kids with dirty teeth.”

“If you don’t brush those teeth right now, you don’t get dessert for a week.”

These don’t work. All these statements will accomplish is ending up with a kiddo who is terrified of the dentist, won’t sleep in their own bedroom, and will refuse to brush at all costs because they aren’t going to get dessert, so why bother with the brush?

Remain encouraging. Keep trying. What didn’t work the first time may work the second time. Or the third. Don’t give up.

It’s Worth the Effort

Starting young with oral care can result in good oral hygiene and health for life. The tips outlined in this article are great starting points that can be combined, tweaked to fit your own needs and preferences, and built upon.

Brush your teeth along with your kids, let them choose their own tools for the task, make it entertaining with a song and a stuffie, and set it into your everyday routine.

You will get there if you keep trying.

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