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How do I get my toddler to brush their teeth?

Just like when you are trying to get your child to eat their vegetables, getting them to brush their teeth may be a tricky prospect. With that being said, forming good oral hygiene habits while your kid is young can help to set them up for a life of good oral health. Here, our Burnaby dentists explain more.

On some days your child may enjoy the brushing experience, but often, they may put up a fight. It is very important that your child has their teeth brushed twice each day regardless of how much then enjoy it on a given day though. Until your kid reaches the age of eight, they likely won't have the dexterity needed to do a good enough job to brush their own teeth, so you will need to do it for them.

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:

  • Ask your child to look in the mirror with their mouth open and pretend to see "sugar bugs", then proceed to brush. 
  • Offer small rewards for challenging toddlers after brushing – like stickers, reading a favourite 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.
  • Let your child or toddler hold your toothbrush and brush your teeth while you brush theirs. This can be a fun way to enjoy brushing together and turn it into a form of play. 
  • How you ask can allow them to feel some independence. You might ask “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 and be more likely to cooperate.
  • Using a (separate) toothbrush, brush the teeth of each of your child’s favourite 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 the above methods, try using a piece of gauze to rub their teeth. There are some excellent pre-formed gauze pieces available that are made just for this purpose. if your dentist recommends using a fluoride toothpaste only once a day, use it, but only a small dab is necessary. 

If you would like to learn more tips about brushing your toddler's teeth, contact our Burnaby dentists today

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