Questions for the Dentist: Getting Your Toddler to Brush


Some kids take to brushing their teeth like a duck takes to water. Other children hate brushing their teeth and need to be bribed, cajoled, and further encouraged to tackle the task. For such children, parents may be tempted to give up the fight and simply allow children to brush for a few seconds, rinse, spit, and call it a day.

The Center for Pediatric Dentistry at the University of Washington has some great tips for encouraging young children to brush without scolding, fights or tears.

  • Sing a song to your child while they’re brushing their teeth. Time the song so that it’s about a minute long, and make it a game. Have them brush until you finish. Make it your “special” song just for brushing your teeth.
  • If you’re teaching a child how to brush her teeth, “model” the technique using a doll or a stuffed animal. Let your child “practice” brushing on the doll later. Give her doll its own toothbrush just for practice.
  • Let young toddlers play with their toothbrushes. Children learn through play, and practice new skills through play.
  • Make brushing the teeth part of a simple bedtime routine morning and night.
  • Play “make believe” to get a child to open his or her mouth wide so you can look at the teeth and help them brush. Have your child roar like a lion or a bear to open the mouth wide.

It’s also helpful to use child-sized toothbrushes so that it fits into her mouth better and makes brushing easier. A small step stool can be used by the sink so that toothpaste and water lands in the basin, not on the floor, during practice brushing sessions.

A dentist can help your child learn how to brush and care for her teeth. At Bassett Creek Dental, our team of dentists and hygienists loves working with children. We welcome your appointment and can accommodate new patients of all ages. Please call us at 763-546-1301.



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