Many of us can probably remember a time when we lied to our parents about brushing our teeth. It’s never a fun thing for kids to do, especially when it comes to toddlers. They will often resist and throw tantrums to avoid the annoying task of cleaning their teeth. And as a parent, you also don’t want to deal with the daily fight that comes with getting out the toothbrush and toothpaste.
Regardless of whether your toddler wants to brush their teeth or not, it’s a necessary task to keep them healthy. Here are some ways you can make brushing your toddler’s teeth an easier task for everyone.
Why It’s Important
Even though your toddler’s baby teeth will eventually fall out, it’s still crucial that they avoid unhealthy oral hygiene practices. Neither you nor your child will want to deal with the pain of needing a cavity filled. Plus, starting them off with good brushing habits as early as possible will make it easier for them to continue these practices as they grow up.
Why Do They Resist?
At this stage in life, a child is becoming aware of their wants and learning how to say no. Being told to do something that they don’t enjoy, want to do, or understand the importance of leads to resistance. They don’t yet know why brushing is important and the effects that not cleaning your teeth can have. Therefore, they only see it as a chore and an inconvenience rather than a necessity.
How to Encourage Healthy Habits
Here are some tips to help your toddler start brushing their teeth with less fuss.
Explain Why It’s Important
Making sure your toddler knows that brushing their teeth is important, even if they don’t understand why yet, will help them take it more seriously.
Lead by Example
Make brushing your teeth together a part of your routine, even if you are just pretending to do it. Turning it into a bonding activity can help your toddler find comfort in the act and make them more likely to brush their teeth without throwing a tantrum.
Let Them Take Charge
Forcing your toddler to brush, or even trying to brush their teeth yourself, will likely only lead to more resistance from them. Instead, let them take the lead. Give them the toothbrush and make sure they have a safe amount of toothpaste on, and guide them through proper brushing. Being able to do this themselves will make them feel more in control of the situation, giving them confidence and a sense of independence. In addition to that, let them choose their own toothbrush to feel like they have more of a say in the situation.
Make It Fun!
Add something into the brushing routine that will engage your toddler. You can have a song that you play to make sure they brush for long enough, or even try to sing together while brushing your teeth for a good laugh! You can also incorporate a simple little dance to do, or have a special piece of clothing they put on each time. Whatever your child is interested in or keeps their attention will be beneficial to incorporate.
Get Help From Professionals
The next time you take your toddler to the dentist, ask them to back you up on healthy brushing habits. Usually they will do this anyway, but having it reinforced by a professional will help your child better understand the importance of brushing their teeth.
Schedule a consultation
If you want more tips and tricks for helping your toddler feel more comfortable brushing their teeth, our team at Sprout Kids Dentistry in Boston can help! We are experienced pediatric dentists who work with children of all ages. You can get in touch with us by calling 617-934-6339 or filling out an online form.
Dr. Michelle Anderson is a pediatric dentist board certified by the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry.