How Do I Get My Child to Brush Their Teeth?

Our Dental Blog | Child Dentistry, Info & tips | 10.23.2019

For many children, teeth brushing is just another chore stealing them away from their more fun-filled activities. Too young to comprehend the lasting effects of tooth decay, what harm can skipping one day possibly do, right? Nevertheless, getting your testy-toddlers or rebellious tweens to brush their teeth regularly can be a nightmare to deal with. So what’s the best way to get your fussy child to brush their teeth consistently and preserve good habits? Let’s go through your best options – at any age!

Toddlers Not Brushing

The most prominent actors behind the No-Brushing movement, toddlers can be downright fussy. But, holding your little-one down and brushing their teeth forcefully isn’t going to make anyone’s lives any easier. 

If you find your toddler shying away from oral hygiene, you can try some of these common tips that have helped plenty of weary parents. 

1. Make Brushing a Game

Try playing games such as Monkey-See-Monkey-Do. Children around these ages learn a surprising amount through copying their parent’s habits. Parents who brush regularly should complete their oral hygiene routines with their children present. In doing so, you will help establish the importance of brushing twice a day.

As well, activities like these can assist in making brushing more relatable. Try showing your toddler videos of other kids brushing their teeth to help normalize this behaviour. 

Other games such as Beat the TimerStuffed-Animal Dentistry, or simply taking turns brushing each others teeth are amazing alternatives to help kids cooperate. 

2. Let Your Toddler Take the Reigns

While letting your child brush their own teeth won’t produce the best results, it will likely make your toddler less prone to temper tantrums surrounding dental cleaning. As children, they want to complete the task themselves. By letting your toddler make choices from toothpaste to types of brushes, you can make their experience more personal and reverse the normal dynamics of parent-toddler teeth brushing.

Just ensure to uplift them with positive remarks such as, “Great job!” or “You’re doing perfect!” These quick words of encouragement will go a long way when strengthening positive connotations towards brushing. 

3. Create Rewards

Let your toddler choose the night-time reading, create some knick-knack trophies, or let them stay-up an extra 10 minutes. Whatever the reward you find works best, go-ahead and reward! After all, you are trying to create lasting habits. While you won’t be able to fix their oral hygiene inconsistencies overnight, rewarding good behaviour has been shown to produce reliable routines over time. 

Adolescents and Teens Not Brushing

Part of growing up means being able to choose your own paths. And while this statement is usually applied to academic, athletic or stylistic alternatives, a surprising amount of young adults think this means they can CHOOSE to stop brushing their teeth. 

Blame it on short-sightedness or their rebellious nature, this age group is notorious for relapsing on proper hygiene – oral or not. Impeding on precious screen time, you’re probably more likely to see a snap chat filter with a toothbrush before a real one in their mouth. So what can you do when your angsty pubescent starts to fall behind on brushing? 

1. Superficial Consequences

While very legitimate health consequences can occur from poor dental practices, such as high blood pressure, gum disease, and cavities, these are long-term issues. Try switching the rhetoric to more superficial short-term repercussions.  

Teeth yellowing, halitosis (bad breath), and visible plaque are all undesirable physical traits. Focusing on these aspects can leverage the higher than normal image consciousness trend within these age groups.

2. Professional Help

So, your personal pleads for dental hygiene have been falling on deaf ears. This can be a good sign to introduce professional help. 

Like it or not, your child might be discrediting any information you provide them. This predisposition is caused by teens developing brains. It’s not necessarily that your child doesn’t believe in your warnings, more so that this is the age of independence. By giving your kid some much-needed room, and letting a dentist deal with the discussions or scare tactics, your child might be more receptive and open to dental education. 

What Not to Do – No Matter the Age

One thing is very important for developing good brushing habits. Never – and we mean NEVER – use a dentist as a form of punishment. This will only exacerbate the situation and create a negative perception of dental care. 

We’ve Seen It Hundreds of Times

As pediatric dentists, we have years of extra training and experience working with infants, toddlers, and tweens. If you’re at home oral hygiene is becoming a daily battle with your child, we can help! 

Treehouse Dental Care specialists have over 40 years’ worth of educating, motivating, and promoting dental health. Let our commitment to oral hygiene be the break-through your child needs. 

Contact us to discuss how we can help your child build healthy habits and achieve a beautiful smile! 

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