Sometimes your child might enjoy brushing their teeth, but often, they can put up a fight. It is, however, very important that your child has their teeth brushed at least twice a day. Until your child reaches eight years of age they won't have the proper dexterity to do a good enough job brushing their teeth on their own.
Always remember that it has to be done, regardless of whether your child wants to do 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.
Below are a few tricks that can get your kids excited about brushing:
- Purchase toothbrushes specifically designed to entertain children. Some connect via Bluetooth and kids can follow along on your phone while they brush.
- How you ask can let them feel some independence. You could ask them “Which toothbrush would you like to use?” instead of “Are you ready to brush your teeth?” or “Do you want to brush your teeth?” It will make them feel like they are part of the decision and be more likely to cooperate.
- Ask your child to look in the mirror with their mouth open and pretend to see "sugar bugs", then proceed to brush.
- 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.
- Offer small rewards for challenging toddlers after brushing – like stickers, reading a favorite book afterward, or holding a special toy.
- With 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.
If your toddler isn’t impressed with any of these methods, you can try rubbing a piece of gauze on their teeth. There are a handful of pre-formed gauze pieces designed for this purpose. If your dentist suggests using fluoride toothpaste once a day, you should only need to use a dab.