“Play” toothbrushing helps your toddler get used to the idea of brushing their teeth while working out their feelings about it. 

Buy some extra children’s toothbrushes and let your toddler brush their stuffed animals’ or dolls’ “teeth.” Brush your child’s arm or ear. “Is this where I should brush?” Or let them brush your teeth to reverse the power dynamic and help them work out their feelings about it. This type of toothbrushing play releases their emotions so that instead of crying or feeling apprehensive, they are hopefully giggling. Read this great story by Hand in Hand about why doing this helps kids.

Let your child play “copycat”. Since most kids this age enjoy learning by copying but want to “do it themselves,” brush together looking into the mirror. Have your toddler copy you in the mirror as you brush your teeth. Make it a fun game. They may not do a thorough job, but it is a good start and teaches your child to brush their own teeth.

Drs. James and Samuel Owens have come up with a few additional tips to share with toddler parents that may make tooth brushing an easier feat.

Try different kinds of toothpaste. Most kids don’t like the taste of toothpaste. You might let them select one for themselves. The other option is to buy a variety of kids’ toothpaste one after the other, trying them and giving choices. Experiment to see if there is one toothpaste in particular that makes them want to brush.

Make toothbrushing part of the daily routine. Try to stick with a routine and just as important, a time that incents your toddler. For instance, you may want to avoid brushing teeth after their bath because they may feel tired. You might try after dinner, before the bath or even during the bath. Bathing makes the child feel playful and relaxed. Why not hand them a toothbrush and let them get used to it as part of their bath time play.

Make it short and sweet! Having something or someone poking in your mouth can be scary to a child. The idea is to get children used to the idea of brushing as a routine. You can lengthen the amount of brushing time as your child gets older. 

What to try if your child resists brushing their teeth. If your child resists brushing their teeth, don’t get into a power struggle. Never hold them down and force them to brush their teeth. This has an opposite effect on the child. Just “Play” toothbrushing the next day so he or she sees it is still on your agenda. This gives your toddler a chance to work out some of the resistance. Then try some version of brushing the next night. It’s important for them to know that this will be a part of their daily routine and Mommy or Daddy will keep trying if they resist. The bottom line is to experiment with what works best and doesn’t give up on it!

Take your child to a pediatric dentist regularly to have his/her teeth and gums checked. Call Drs. James and Samuel Owens your trusted Broken Arrow pediatric dentists today 918.455.7700!