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. 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.
Regardless of whether your child is looking forward to it or not, remember that it must be completed. You wouldn't let your child sit in a soiled diaper because they don't want it changed, and you shouldn't let food or plaque build upon your child's teeth because they don't want them 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:
- 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 favourite book afterward, or holding a special toy.
- Brush the teeth of each of your child's favourite toys after brushing your own with a (separate) toothbrush. Discuss how important it is for their toy to look after their teeth. When toddlers see how much their toy enjoys having their teeth brushed, they will want to have theirs done as well.
- The way you ask can give them a sense of autonomy. Instead of "Are you ready to brush your teeth?" you could ask, "Which toothbrush would you like to use?" "Would you like to brush your teeth?" or "Would you like to brush your teeth?" They'll be more likely to cooperate if they feel like they're a part of the decision.
If none of these methods work for your toddler, try rubbing a piece of gauze against his teeth. There are some pre-formed gauze pieces available specifically for this use. A dab of fluoride toothpaste is all that is required if your dentist recommends it once a day.