Many parents find it difficult to brush their young child’s teeth. Toddlers may have sore mouths, because their teeth are still coming in. They may be asserting their independence or testing their limits by not complying with the attempted brushing. Although this can be very challenging for parents, it is still important for long-term oral health to be persistent in keeping their teeth clean.
Toddler Teeth Brushing Tips
Here are some helpful hints to make teeth brushing more fun for both you and your child:
1. Use the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” to sing: Brush, brush, brush your teeth, brush them left to right. Brush them up and brush them down to keep them clean and white.
2. Use a hand puppet to brush your child’s teeth. The child may be more open to a puppet brushing their teeth than their parent brushing their teeth.
3. Pretend to find “sugar bugs” hiding in your child’s mouth. Attack the sugar bugs by brushing them away. If sugar bugs don’t work for your child, pretend to find zoo animals in their mouth. Describe the animal and have the child guess what it is.
4. If your child won’t open their mouth, have them roar like a lion.
5. Play “red light, green light” with your child. On green light, have your child open their mouth while you make funny noises and brush their teeth. On red light, freeze while the child closes their mouth.
6. Use this rhyme to describe what the tooth brush is doing inside your child’s mouth: “Up like the sunshine, down like the rain, back and forth like a choo-choo train.”
7. Take turns with your child. Have them practice brushing your teeth, then you practice brushing their teeth.
8. Practice brushing the teeth of your child’s favorite doll or stuffed animal.
9. Let the child have several toothbrushes of different colors. Each time you brush, let your child choose which toothbrush they would like to use for brushing.
10. Let your child help you buy the tooth paste and tooth brush at the store. When your child is able to participate in decision making, the child is more invested in the brushing process.
For more parenting advice and support, contact the Parents As Teachers program through Catholic Charities and AzPAC. This partnership provides family support through home visits, screenings, and assessments at no costs to families. Families in Mesa, Gilbert, and Queen Creek with a child ages 0-5 are eligible. For more information call 480-388-3292.
Mary Cannon is a Program Manager with the Arizona Partnership for Children (AzPAC) program, Parents As Teachers. AzPAC is a partnership between Catholic Charities Community Services and Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Arizona that provides family support through home visits, group connections, screenings and assessments, along with needed resources.