Just like trying to get your kids to eat their vegetables, getting them to brush their teeth can be tricky. That said, Toothworks believes forming good oral hygiene habits while they are young is critical. Here are some tips from our dentists at Toothworks King-York Dental.
On some days your child may enjoy the brushing experience, but often, they may put up a fight. It is, however, 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 on their own.
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:
- 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 look in the mirror with their mouth open and pretend to see "sugar bugs", then proceed to brush.
- Purchase toothbrushes specifically designed to entertain children. Some connect via Bluetooth and kids can follow along on your phone while they brush.
- Offer small rewards for challenging toddlers after brushing – like stickers, reading a favourite book afterward, or holding a special toy.
- Brush the teeth of each of your child's favourite toys with a (separate) toothbrush after brushing your own. Discuss how important it is for their toy to take care of their teeth. When most toddlers see how much their toy enjoys having their teeth brushed, they will want theirs done as well.
- 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 none of these methods work for your toddler, try rubbing a piece of gauze on his teeth. There are some pre-formed gauze pieces available specifically for this purpose. If your dentist recommends using fluoride toothpaste once a day, a dab will suffice.