How Can You Help Your Child Who Doesn’t Brush Their Teeth?
Has your child’s oral care turned into a daily battle? Does your child act like brushing and flossing is a chore? If your child refuses to brush their teeth or brushes properly, you can use these tips to make brushing fun.
How Do You Get Your Child to Brush Their Teeth Properly?
Start teaching your child to brush their teeth as soon as they start holding the toothbrush. In these early years, you will need to help them until you are sure they can do this independently. Some children refuse to brush their teeth, but if you’re just having trouble using technique that’s right for your child, these activities can help:
Educate with Fun Books and Videos. If you can’t convince your child that proper oral care is important, perhaps your child’s favorite book or TV character can. Many popular books, TV shows, and online videos are designed to teach children how to care for their teeth and encourage healthy oral care habits.
Teach By Playing
Children often learn through play, so use age-appropriate dental activities to help your kids learn about dental hygiene and encourage proper brushing. For example, use a poster board to draw a smiley face with teeth. Use a pencil to paint these teeth yellow and let the kids paint the teeth white. Talk about the importance of cleaning teeth so they stay white and healthy.
Use a Timer
One of the biggest obstacles to proper brushing is brushing your kids for two minutes. Turn this into a game by using a timer to help them figure out the correct brushing length. You can use an hourglass counter or even an app on your phone to keep your kids on the right track.
Make a Private Dentist Visit
Regular dental checkups can be another way to encourage proper brushing. Your child’s dentist can demonstrate proper cleaning techniques and give them tips for a radiant and healthy smile. Turn these visits into a fun activity by combining them with fun family time, such as a trip to a local park or museum, or a picnic with healthy snacks.
How Do You Make Brushing Fun?
No matter how often you explain the importance of clean and healthy teeth, some children will still refuse to brush. If you’re tired of tears and fights, try these tips to make brushing fun for your child who doesn’t want to brush their teeth.
Toddlers often like to imitate what their parents do. Use this to your advantage by brushing together. Watching you brush your teeth can make the process more interesting for your toddler and set a great example at the same time.
Sing and Brush
Everything is more fun with music, and brushing teeth is no exception. Find a song about brushing teeth to sing to your child, or make some simple phrases of your own. You can even let them choose one of their favorite tunes to play, and if the song lasts for two minutes, you’ll get the bonus of encouraging brushing from start to finish.
Play a Game
Use accessories, games or apps to add a fun element to brushing. Bring your favorite stuffed animal or doll with you and let your child brush their teeth while you brush them. Pretend that a dirty puppy is hiding in its mouth and “chase” it with a toothbrush. Or use mobile apps that play music or use characters to encourage kids to brush their teeth.
Let Them Choose
Oral care is not an option, but you can still empower your child with options when it comes to brushing teeth. Take your child to the toothbrush aisle at the store and let him choose a toothbrush or toothpaste in a fun color or with his favorite character. You can even have multiple toothbrushes and let them choose which one to use when it’s time to brush.
A Note from the Tooth Fairy
Kids love getting money from the tooth fairy. If your child refuses to brush their teeth, leave a note on the bathroom mirror informing the tooth fairy that you will not be paid for teeth that are not properly brushed.
Sometimes all it takes to encourage brushing is a little extra motivation. Create a simple progress chart and let your child place a sticker each time they finish brushing their teeth. This visual aid engages them in the process and helps them stay focused on the task. You can also give them small rewards, such as an extra bedtime story or the ability to choose the next family board game, or five minutes of extra screen time to motivate them further.
When Your Child Still Refuses to Brush Their Teeth
If you’ve exhausted all these ideas and your toddler still isn’t brushing their teeth, there may be an underlying problem. Sensitive teeth can make oral hygiene practices particularly unpleasant. Ask your child if he feels pain while brushing his teeth. If so, talk to your child’s dentist about the issue and see if certain products or practices can relieve some of the pain.
Whatever the reason for your child’s resistance to oral care, remember that a big part of instilling good habits in your child is building good habits yourself. Brush at least twice a day and don’t forget to brush your tongue too. Clean between your teeth at least once a day with floss, interdental brushes or dental floss. Consider using other helpful products such as antimicrobial mouthwash and tongue scraper. And visit your dentist for regular checkups. When your child sees that you prioritize healthy habits (especially if you make it fun), they will likely do the same.