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Teaching your toddlers good oral hygiene is key to a life-long healthy smile. Unfortunately, the “terrible two’s” can apply to brushing teeth. We know you’re busy, mom and dad, so let’s get right to our best tips for teaching your toddler to love brushing their teeth!
Lead by Example
Invite your kids to watch you and their older siblings (if they have them) brush. Toddlers love to be like their parents and big brothers and sisters. If that doesn’t work, find books or tv shows featuring their favorite characters brushing their teeth and promoting good oral health.
Pick an Awesome Toothbrush
Choosing a brush with their favorite characters can go a long way. Some even have lights and sounds! It’s even better if you include them by letting your child choose their new toothbrush. While a manual brush is okay, a rotating electric toothbrush may help do a better job. Always choose a soft-bristled brush to avoid damage to tooth enamel.
Many kids flip their lids for little toys and devices all their own. And this may be the motivation they need to brush for 2 full minutes each time. Even a tiny 2-minute hourglass timer can be fun. You can also turn to technology and use your phone, smart home device, or YouTube videos (search for brushing timer to find a bunch of fun options).
Find a Flavor they Love
You may have to let them try a couple of options, but finding a flavor they like will help your kids enjoy brushing more. Just make sure whatever toothpaste you choose has the ADA seal.
Begin with a small amount, about the size of a grain of rice. As your child gets better at brushing, work towards a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
Routines Make Habits
Toddlers thrive on routines, so this is an important step. You probably already have a morning and evening routine in place. Even if you don’t realize it, you and your child probably do a few of the same things every day at about the same time and in approximately the same order. Tie brushing into that routine, and before you know it, it will become a habit.
What if Your Child Resists?
Keep it Quick
It is okay to build up to the 2-minute recommendation. Forcing it from the beginning may slow your child’s progress. Instead, do a quick swipe and say, “wow, wasn’t that so easy!”
It is a good idea for you and your toddler to take turns brushing his or her teeth. It may help with resistance and also ensure a thorough job. You can also let them brush your teeth, then say it is your turn to help brush theirs.
Skip the Paste
If your toddler absolutely refuses to use toothpaste, that’s okay! Just use water to get started. Simply brushing with water will have a positive effect on cleaning your child’s teeth. Try reintroducing toothpaste later on, once the habit of brushing is built.
Make it Fun
Pair toothbrushing with their favorite song, use a sticker chart, or turn it into a game. Here are some fun games:
- Play Dentists: Take turns role-playing as “dentists” and check each other’s teeth.
- Simon Says: “Simon says brush your front teeth…Simon says brush up and down…Simon says brush side-to-side…stick out your tongue!”
- Freeze Dance: Play music, and when it stops, you have to “freeze,” but instead of just dancing, brush your teeth, too.
- Stop and Go: Act super silly while they are brushing (or opening their mouth for you to brush) by singing songs, making ridiculous noises, or making funny faces, then stop when they stop brushing or close their mouths.
Recruit Your Dentist
Make sure your kids see the dentist twice per year. Make your appointment today, and we will help explain why it is super important to take good care of your teeth every day!