Oh the joy of teeth. Life wouldn’t be the same without them, but taking care of them is something that many people would rather avoid. I have been blessed with wonderful teeth. I brush twice a day, floss once, and everything is perfect. I’ve never had a cavity in my life and still have all 4 wisdom teeth. Jason on the other hand, well, let’s just say he hasn’t been so blessed, so it would seem that Nick has a 50/50 chance of having no teeth problems, but those odds still worry me. Never having had major dental work means that just the thought of it scares me silly, and I certainly don’t want Nick to have to go through it if at all possible. When it comes to teeth brushing though Nick hasn’t always been very cooperative. I wiped his mouth with a washcloth for as long as I could, but I had to stop when he wouldn’t stop biting my finger. Once that happened I tried brushing his teeth with a toothbrush, but he would have none of it. Our dentist said not to push him. He didn’t want Nick to see brushing as a bad thing, but as Nick got older and got more teeth I got worried. On my last trip to the dentist I asked my hygienist for some tips for brushing toddler teeth, and she gave me some great advice.
1. Use an Electric Toothbrush
A lot of little kids prefer using an electric toothbrush. With an electric brush the person doing the brushing doesn’t have to do as much work to brush the teeth, so it’s less likely that the brush will bump into something like tender gums. I have known other people that have had great success with this, but I will say it didn’t work for us. The turned on brush sent Nick into hysterics, so that was a no go. On the other hand he does really like the brush, so he will often take it and chew on it. At least he’s getting the brush to his teeth, and personally I feel that it’s better than nothing.
2. Pick Out a Fun Brush
Take your toddler to the store and let them pick out their toothbrush. It’s amazing how many different toothbrushes their are for a kid to pick from. Even the electric ones had different designs. Both of Nick’s brushes (electric and manual) are Jake and the Never Land Pirates. He loves his Jake brushes and will sometimes even ask for them. Having a brush that he liked made a big difference in having a happy Nick at brushing time.
3. Make it Fun
Toddlers are just like everyone else. If you try to force them to do something they are not going to want to do it. To make teeth brushing a better experience make it fun. I made up a little song that I sing every time I brush Nick’s teeth. He loves the song and he also knows that I will continue to brush his teeth for the whole song (I’m starting to get him to let me sing it twice). Sometimes he’ll bite down on the brush and hold it with his teeth, so I’ll hold the note I’m on until he lets go. He thinks that’s hysterical. Maybe you can make a game out of it. Just do whatever it takes to make it a happy experience.
4. Use Toddler Training Toothpaste
Since training toothpaste doesn’t have any fluoride I didn’t orignially see the point in using it. I figured a wet brush was just as good, but my hygienist stressed that I really needed to get Nick some training toothpaste. She told me that her daughter’s loved it and that they often wanted more. She was so right. This was probably the biggest difference maker when it came to getting Nick to let me brush his teeth. I got Nick some Thomas the Train Tooty Fruity flavored training toothpaste and he loves the stuff. He asks for more all the time! It’s like candy to him. The stuff lasts a long time too.
5. Let Your Toddler Brush Their Teeth
You should always brush your toddler’s teeth because they don’t yet know how to do it properly, but give them some time to do it themselves as well. Nick knows that I get to brush his teeth first and then when I’m done he can have a turn. Exactly how long he’ll do it for changes from week to week, but the important thing is that he’s taking ownership of the process and seeing that he can do it. I always make sure to tell him good job when he’s done.
I know that getting a toddler to brush their teeth is no easy task. For me it has been up there with some of the worst things I’ve had to get Nick to do. I must say the fact that Nick is finally done teething has helped too. I’m just grateful that Nick now lets me brush his teeth without hardly ever putting up a fuss.
What tips do you have for making brushing toddler teeth easier?