I get this question every day – “How can I get my 2 year-old to brush their teeth?”
And with 4 nephews and a niece, I have seen first-hand how hard it can be to get these little people to cooperate when it comes to brushing their teeth!
7 Awesome tips for getting your toddler to brush their teeth
Brushing toddlers teeth is really important to not only help to prevent tooth decay and gum disease, but to instil healthy habits for their entire life. I understand the challenges you face in getting your kids to brush their teeth. The “Battle of the Bathroom” (as I like to call it) can be a testing time! Above all, you have to remember the good that you’ll be doing by conquering this challenge!
Now, there are so many tips and tricks that might work for your particular independent 2 year-old. But I’m going to give you the best ones that I’ve seen the most success with!
(These tips also work for kids that are older than 2 years old, like 3 and 4 year olds)
Try our 7 awesome tips for getting your toddler to brush their teeth and remember to keep pushing through the hard times! You’re going to make sure their risk of developing tooth decay is as low as possible – I know it!
1. Sneak attack
Try brushing their teeth before they get into the bathroom!
By now, if your independent 2 year-old has had enough experience, the bathroom may have become a bit of a combative area.
Kids may be more relaxed and open to ideas in different areas of the house, like in the lounge room while chilling out after dinner.
You don’t necessarily need to use toothpaste when you attempt this because physical removal of the plaque is the most important part.
2. Distract them
Play The Wiggles, Peppa Pig or PJ Masks for 2 minutes to distract them for the ideal amount of time to brush their teeth!
There’s even a few iPhone and Android apps made just for toothbrushing time! We’ll have a review of our favourites soon so keep an eye out!
3. Brush as a family
Your little ones actually do want to fit in with you and the family. They want to belong. So model the behaviour you want to see by having everyone possible in the bathroom at the same time to brush their teeth!
Pro-tip: If you have an older sibling to model the brushing behaviour on by brushing their teeth in front of the younger sibling, this will probably work even better!
4. Let them gently brush your teeth
Be careful with this tip! You will want to hold their hand and let them gently get your toothbrush onto your teeth. “Gently” is the operative word here, because if they are too rough, you might need an early trip to the dentist!
Explain that they can have a turn at brushing your teeth and then it’s your turn to brush their teeth. You scratch my back, I scratch yours.
Sometimes, as they develop their independence, kids just don’t want to do anything that their parents want them to do.
We encourage parents to bring their young children to us at Method Dental. Not only can we make sure their mouths and teeth are developing well and that they are healthy, we can brush their teeth! Once they have another adult (not their parents) brush their teeth, they often will allow Mum or Dad to get in there with a brush at home. It doesn’t always go as planned, but when kids are open to the novelty of our dentists brushing their teeth, it really helps at home.
And at Method Dental, we believe every kid can have an experience at the dentist that’s a really positive one! Find out more about our approach to children’s dentistry here.
6. High fives!
Praise your kids a lot if they do allow you to brush their teeth. Even if it’s only letting you do a bit more than the night before!
Positive reinforcement will quickly help your toddler to learn that this is a good habit!
Because you praise them, they’ll want to do it more, allowing you to brush more the next time, creating a positive feedback loop!
7. One more little thing…
Some kids just love biting or chewing on their toothbrush! This can result in the bristles becoming less effective at removing plaque. What a disaster if you are finally allowed to get in there only to find that the toothbrush isn’t doing its job!
Therefore, I recommend having two toothbrushes. That is, one for them to chew on and play with and one for actual brushing by Mum or Dad.
At what age do parents stop brushing kids teeth?
We recommend that you continue to brush your kids teeth until they can confidently tie their own shoelaces. This way, we know they have the coordination to effectively remove all of the plaque from their teeth.
But, I would strongly suggest the best way to find out whether it’s time to stop brushing your kids teeth is to ask your dentist! They should be able to help you decide when your child is ready for the big time. Your dentist might even give you some plaque-disclosing tablets which will help your kids to actually see the plaque on their teeth while they’re brushing!
And if you need some help on which toothpaste you should choose, or the best brushing technique to use for your kids you can read all about it here.
In conclusion, this will be a tough challenge. Use these tips, make up some of your own, and persevere. It’ll be worth it.
If you have any other suggestions or questions – please don’t hesitate to contact us! Watch out for future blogs where we’ll tell you all about the best toothbrushes and toothpastes for the little ones!
And if you’d like to book your little person in for their dental check up where we can brush their teeth – click here!
I really hope that helps you in the “Battle of the Bathroom” and let me know how you go!
Dr. Grant McGrath BDSc
Co-Founder, Principal Dentist