On some days your child may enjoy the brushing experience, but a lot of the time, they may put up a fight. It is, however, incredibly important for your child to thoroughly brush their teeth at least twice a day. Until your child reaches eight years of age, they won't have the dexterity or strength to do a proper job brushing their teeth on their own.
Always remember that it needs to get done, regardless of whether your child is looking forward to it or not. You wouldn't leave your child in a dirty diaper just because they resist the changing process, 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 brushing your child's teeth can be a fight, so try to make it fun for them. Like most things, consistency 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 open their mouth in front of a mirror, and pretend you can see "sugar bugs." Proceed to brush the child's teeth to "get rid of them!"
- Offer rewards for challenging toddlers after brushing: stickers, reading a favorite book afterward, or holding a special toy.
- Purchase toothbrushes specifically designed to entertain children. Some connect via Bluetooth and kids can follow along on your phone while they brush.
- 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.
- Allow the child to feel some independence and agency. You might do this by asking, “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 process and be more likely to cooperate.
If you have a toddler that 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.