how to get your toddler to brush their teeth: tooth and sun shape made out of toothpaste

Even though getting your toddler to brush their teeth can be tricky, with a little determination and innovation from your side, your child will never have to have a bad dental experience. These 7 tips should make brushing your toddler’s teeth a little easier.

1. Try a countdown

Keep them motivated by using a toothbrush with a timer or an hourglass to encourage them to brush for a full 2 minutes.

2. Let them choose

Toddlers will be more willing to brush with a toothbrush – and toothpaste flavour – of their choice. The same goes for the type of toothbrush they use; let them decide if they want a manual or electric toothbrush.

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3. Be a role model

Children love copying their parents’ behavior so when it comes to instilling good habits like brushing and flossing, use this to your advantage. If they see mommy or daddy taking care of their teeth, they’re more likely to do it themselves.

4. Entertain them

Brushing your teeth doesn’t have to be boring, make it a fun and playful activity. You could put some music on, make it a special activity your child does with mom or dad before bed, or turn it into a game. Some children can be persuaded to brush their teeth if you first demonstrate how to do it on a teddy bear or other plush toy.

how to get your child to brush their teeth: child brushing the teeth of a plush toy with a dental hygienist

5. Make the wash basin inviting

There are plenty of rinse cups, toothbrush holders and storage containers available in a range of colors, shapes and cartoon characters. Choose visually appealing items to make the basin look like a fun space – that will be half the battle won.

how to get your toddler to brush their teeth: colourful basin storage itemshow to get your toddler to brush their teeth: peppa pig toothpaste and brush

6. Friendly competition

Let there be a reward for brushing twice every day, even if it’s just a sticker or being able to watch an extra 5 minutes of TV. Most children are up for a challenge so consider making brushing their teeth twice a day into a competition between siblings or even cousins to see who can tick off all 14 in a week.

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7. Make it a routine

Don’t let brushing twice a day be optional. Instill the routine from a young age and, in doing so, save yourself lots of trouble, tears and money in the future!

Sarie Liebenberg, dental hygienist and lecturer
Sarie traded a glamorous career as a lecturer at a finishing school for a new adventure as a dental hygienist and lecturer when she went to university to retrain at the age of 31. Sarie found her passion in helping people, saying ‘it’s much more than working on someone’s mouth, it’s restoring confidence, creating opportunities and being part of making it all happen, not only for the patient, but also for myself.’ A mom of one herself, Sarie has a special interest in working with children.