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. Your child will need help with proper teeth brushing until they are around 8 years of age due to a lack of dexterity that would allow them to get into the tough-to-reach areas.
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 ways that you can help make teeth brushing exciting!
- Give your child the tools that you are using to clean their teeth. By allowing them to hold onto the toothbrush and toothpaste you can allow them to feel involved making it more fun!
- Use a mirror to look for 'sugar bugs' and ask your child to help you search for them so you can brush them away.
- Purchase toothbrushes specifically designed to entertain children. There are certain toothbrushes that are Bluetooth enabled to allow your child to join in with a process showing on your phone.
- If your toddler is especially tough you could offer little rewards for each successful tooth brushing.
- Using a (separate) toothbrush, brush the teeth of each of your child’s favourite 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 you still can't get your toddler on board with toothbrushing you could use gauze wrapped around your finger to get in and clean the crevices. If your dentist recommends using fluoride toothpaste once a day, just a dab is all that is necessary.