Getting your toddler to brush his or her teeth can feel like a war you’re never going to win. But while your children’s teeth aren’t yet permanent, children tooth care is still incredibly important.
Brushing his or her teeth is just something your toddler will need to get used to. Getting the habit started early can set your child up for a lifetime of healthy teeth. The sooner you can get your toddler accustomed to brushing his or her teeth, the better.
But if your child is clamping his or her lips as soon as they see you with the toothbrush, it can feel like the routine will never set in. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to encourage better brushing habits from your child.
Why is your toddler resisting having their teeth brushed?
As just about every parent already knows, children are stubborn. They’re developing their own personalities and looking for a bit of independence. So, when you tell them what to do – even if it’s in their best interest – they resist.
The same applies to brushing their teeth. They want to be in control, and when you’re coming their way with a toothbrush in hand, they feel like they don’t have any other option.
Understanding where your toddler is coming from can help you work with your toddler to get better results. Here’s how.
1. Let your child make some decisions.
If your toddler is resisting brushing their teeth because they feel like the decision is out of their control, the best way to encourage better children tooth care is to get them involved in the decision making process.
Let your toddler pick out his or her toothbrush and the toothpaste they want to use. Show them the fruity children’s flavors or see if your children’s dentist has any child-friendly recommendations.
Look for branded items with your children’s favorite characters or toothbrushes that play music while the child is brushing. While these items may seem a little gimmicky, it brings a personalized touch to brushing their teeth and can become a time the child looks forward to.
When picking things out, just make sure your toothpaste has the ADA Seal of Acceptance on it.
2. Recruit your children’s dentist.
A children’s dentist can help you explain the importance of brushing teeth to your toddler. If they understand why the practice is so important to their health and their teeth, they might be less resistant.
You can also work with your local children’s dentist to reward positive outcomes. If your toddler goes to see their children’s dentist and is praised for their hard work brushing their teeth between appointments, they will want to continue to impress their dentist by brushing their teeth.
Just let your children’s dentist know you’re struggling with teeth brushing habits. When you’re on the same page, you can develop a successful plan together.
3. Go without the toothpaste.
Sometimes children resist because they don’t like the feeling or flavor of the toothpaste they’re using. While you can try other, kid-friendly flavors, they still might not be a fan.
While toothpaste is important, it’s much more important to get the brushing habit down. If your child doesn’t like toothpaste, try letting them brush using just water. You can slowly begin to add appropriate amounts of toothpaste over time as become more comfortable with the routine.
4. Make it a team event.
Your children look up to you and model your habits, so why not make brushing your teeth a family event? Rather than brushing your child’s teeth for them, allow them to take control while you brush your own.
When they see you brushing your own teeth, they might feel like they’re partaking in an “adult” activity. This can be exciting for them, and allowing them to do the work themselves gives them a bit of independence they crave.
However, you need to make sure your toddler is doing the job. At this point, you want to make sure they’re getting the habit of brushing down, but you should still check to make sure they’re using the right pressure and brushing long enough. If you reinforce the right behaviors, your child will improve faster.
5. Make it fun.
If your child is looking at tooth brushing like a chore, they’ll never enjoy doing it. In order to get them excited about brushing their teeth, you need to make the process fun.
Designate tooth brushing as part of your morning and bedtime routine. Lump the process in with bathtime or story time and add some fun. Play music, sing songs with your toothbrushes in your mouth, and don’t be afraid to act a little silly.
When your child starts to associate the fun times had while brushing your teeth with the actual act of brushing their teeth, they’ll be less likely to resist.
If your child is resisting brushing their teeth, it can feel like you’re never going to get them to develop healthy habits. While their teeth are still growing in, it’s very important that they start practicing good oral hygiene early. If they can develop great tooth brushing practices while they’re still young, it can follow them throughout life and they can always have healthy gums.
Developing great teeth starts at home. You need to find ways to encourage your child to brush their teeth. By letting them make decisions about their toothbrush or toothpaste and creating a fun environment the child will look forward to, you can start to create those healthy habits.
However, it’s also important that your child see their children’s dentist often. A cosmetic dentist for kids can ensure your child is brushing properly and give you tips and ideas to implement better brushing practices at home. With regular check ups, your kid’s teeth will be healthy for a long time.