Teaching Toddlers to Brush Their Teeth

Parents know how important it is for children to start brushing their teeth at an early age, but how do you go about teaching a toddler to brush their teeth?  Dentists recommend one of the best methods for teaching toddlers to brush their teeth is by modeling good dental hygiene. 

By creating a fun atmosphere when you brush your teeth, your child will want to join in and brush their teeth, too.  You can set your child on the counter and have them watch as you brush your teeth.  By showing excitement and making it a game, a child will want to start brushing their teeth “just like mommy and daddy.”   You can help the child brush his teeth by holding the toothbrush with him or her, starting with the front teeth and then moving towards the back.  Don’t forget a few brushes on the tongue, as it harbors the same bacteria that gums do.

A few examples of tooth brushing games are brushing the sugar bugs off, getting the trash out of your teeth, or singing a tooth brushing song to the tune of a familiar children’s song, such as “Brush, Brush, Brush Your Teeth”  to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”, or even counting the teeth by reciting numbers in an animated way, which is what many dentist’s offices do to help toddlers relax.

Another way to interest a toddler in brushing his teeth is to let him choose his own toothbrush.  Children can choose from a vast variety of toothbrushes today that depict their favorite animated characters, with some brushes having built-in flashing, lighted alarms to signal that brushing time is over. 

Tooth brushing does not have to take place in the bathroom.  When children are young, toothpaste is not mandatory, just an option.  Brushing a toddler’s teeth can take place wherever your child is comfortable, whether it be sitting on his bed during story time or watching a video on the sofa before bedtime.  When story time or the video are over, end the routine by taking the child to the bathroom and finish with a tooth brushing with either toothpaste or water. 

As the old saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.”  By making brushing fun and keeping at it, your child will eventually as they age, perfect the routine of daily tooth brushing.