While your child may enjoy the experience on some days, they may often put up a fight when it comes to brushing their teeth. However, it's incredibly 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 independently.
Always remember that it needs to get done, whether your child looks forward to it or not. You'd never allow your child to sit in a soiled diaper just because they didn't want their diaper changed. Similarily, you shouldn't allow food or plaque to build up on your kid's teeth just because they don't want them to be brushed.
Because there are likely times when you'll have a fight on your hands, try to defuse the drama by making the process fun. Like most things, routine is key.
Here are some tricks to get your kids excited about brushing:
- Allow your toddler or child to hold your toothbrush and brush your teeth while you hold their brush to brush their teeth. This is usually a fun way to get them to enjoy brushing.
- Ask your child to look in the mirror with their mouth open and pretend to see "sugar bugs" before starting to brush.
- Purchase toothbrushes designed specifically to entertain children. Some connect via Bluetooth to allow kids to follow along on your phone while they brush.
- Offer small rewards for challenging toddlers after brushing – like stickers, reading a favorite book afterward, or holding a special toy.
- 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.
- 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.
If your toddler 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.