Brushing your toddler’s teeth can either be the best or the worst part of your day. There are simple ways to teach your toddler to brush their teeth and to enjoy it. Dental hygiene is an important skill for life, and you can help to teach your toddler good habits now.
Here are my top tips for teaching your toddler to brush their teeth.
Brush with them.
Toddlers often want to be bigger than they are. Most toddlers will copy things that their parents or older siblings do. Rather than just making them brush their teeth on their own, let them watch a parent or other family member brush their teeth at the same time. Not only will this make teeth brushing more fun, it can also help them to learn better technique through imitation. You can turn it into a game or competition between siblings to see who can get their teeth the cleanest or brush for the longest.
Pick the right toothpaste.
There are a lot of children’s toothpastes out there. Some of them are great. Some of them have sugar in them (!) or are very sweet and colorful. Don’t pick the toothpaste with the cutest cartoon character on the front. Pick normal, mint flavored toothpastes that specify that they are suitable for your age child. I really like Milky Teeth toothpaste for my kids. If you give them sweet toothpaste, it will encourage them to eat the toothpaste rather than clean their teeth with it.
Have fun with toothbrushes.
As long as it’s an age appropriate toothbrush, there’s no reason why your child can’t pick out their own toothbrush. My toddler had a toothbrush with a snowglobe type handle that lit up while she brushed her teeth. Guess what? It encouraged her to brush her teeth multiple times a day and for longer each time. It was worth spending the extra bit of change to get a toothbrush that she loved. Get your toddler involved with picking their toothbrush, and let them get one that they like and can easily identify as theirs.
Use a mirror.
Try putting your child in front of the mirror while they brush their teeth. First of all, it’s funny to watch yourself brush your teeth. Your kids will probably laugh at themselves. However, it can also make it easier for them to see their teeth and where they are brushing. It’s really useful for letting them see where they need to clean and learn how to control the toothbrush to get different movements.
Be full of praise when your child is brushing their teeth. Tell them what a good job they are doing, and encourage them further. For example, tell them what a great job they did cleaning their front teeth, and ask if they can do the back teeth as well.
No matter how good your toddler is at brushing their teeth, they probably won’t get all of their teeth completely clean on their own. After they’ve had a chance to brush for themselves, take the toothbrush for a minute and do a good brushing (especially getting the top and back teeth that toddlers tend to miss).
Use a spare toothbrush to let your toddler brush a favorite toy’s teeth. Brushing teddy’s teeth before bed can help encourage your child to brush their own teeth, give them a chance to practice, and let them establish for themselves that brushing teeth is important.