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How do I get my toddler to brush their teeth?

Sometimes getting young children to regularly brush their teeth can be tricky, but forming good oral hygiene habits while they are young is essential. Today, our Hamilton dentists offer some tips to get your children excited about brushing. 

On some days your child may enjoy the brushing experience, but often parents can struggle with the process. However, it is incredibly important that your child has their teeth brushed at least twice a day. Allowing plaque to build up on your child's teeth can create serious, and sometimes painful, oral health issues down the line. 

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 so it may be a good idea to oversee the process to ensure they are doing a good job. 

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 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.
  • 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?”  Allowing them to feel involved in the decision can make them more likely to cooperate.

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.

Along with regular teeth brushing, your child should begin visiting the dentist at around 6 months of age, or around the time they begin teething, for preventive oral health care checkups. 

If you would like to learn more tips about brushing your toddler's teeth, contact our Hamilton dentists today

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