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How do I get my toddler to brush their teeth?

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Encouraging your child to brush their teeth can be a challenge. However, it is crucial to establish good oral hygiene habits from a young age. Our Thornhill dentists offer the following tips to help you get your toddler to brush their teeth.

While there may be days when your child finds brushing enjoyable, it is common for them to put up a fight on others.

Nevertheless, it remains crucial to ensure that your child's teeth are brushed at least twice a day. It is important to note that until your child reaches eight years of age, they may not possess the necessary dexterity to effectively brush 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:

  • Allow your toddler or child to grasp your toothbrush and brush your teeth, while you hold their toothbrush to brush their own teeth. This interactive approach is often an enjoyable and engaging way for them to participate in brushing their teeth.
  • 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 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.
  • By framing your question in a way that grants them some independence, you can give your child the feeling of choice. Instead of asking, "Are you ready to brush your teeth?" or "Do you want to brush your teeth?", you can enhance their involvement by saying, "Which toothbrush would you like to use?" This approach empowers the child to make a choice and increases the likelihood of cooperation.

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.

If you have more questions about brushing your toddler's teeth, feel free to reach out to our dentists located at Dentistry On GreenLane. Don't hesitate to contact us today for further guidance and information.

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