Toddlers are independence asserting, uncoordinated, loud, dirty, mumbling balls of energy and sweetness. All of this can combine to make everyday routines (from getting dressed in the morning, to bath time in the evening) a marathon of negotiations, pleading, demonstrating, and doing for their ever-doting parents/guardians.

Unquestionably included in the list of mundane yet difficult daily tasks is the dreaded tooth brushing. As you approach with the toothbrush, they wince as though you’re threatening to burn them with hot coal. They purse their lips, they shake their heads left and right, some attempt to launch their tiny bodies from your aching arms, other go floppy in hopes to fall right through to the floor. There may be screaming, and likely one or both of you is crying at some point during the whole ordeal.

Oh toddler, why don’t you understand that this is for your own good? We’re just trying our best to offer you the best start. You can’t go to bed with those burrowing milk sugars coating your teeth – sugar is the major Cavity Culprit after all!

In this blog post we offer some tried, tested and true tips on how to get through toddler tooth brushing feeling a little lighter, a little more successful, and a little less drained:

  1. Accept screen-time into the routine
    • There are several videos that are geared towards little ones that encourage proper brushing. Sometimes all it takes is pandering to their love of all things Elmo, or the soothing tunes of Raffi to distract/encourage them and put a fun spin on things. Here are our two favourite videos:
      • Sesame Street: Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me: Brushy Brush PSA
        • Consider yourself warned that you’ll have ‘Brush brushy brush brushy brush brush – ah!’ stuck in your head every time you brush your own teeth
        • Enjoy the moment when Bruno Mars makes a guest appearance (0:24)
      • Brush your Teeth by Raffi
        • If you’re a sucker for nostalgia, then why not go old school and play this Raffi classic instead. The ear-worm isn’t quite as offensive, either.
  2. Brush your teeth together
    • Toddlers are the original monkey-see, monkey-dos. Make tooth brushing part of the routine for the whole family and they are sure to want to join in on the fun.
    • A step stool or ‘learning tower’ in the bathroom will bring them up to sink level and feel a part of the team.
  3. Give them a turn
    • Allow your toddler to brush their own teeth, but be sure to take over and ‘check’ their work afterwards as they are guaranteed to have missed most (all) teeth and may only limit themselves to chewing on the bristles instead.
    • Some parents find success by allowing their toddlers to brush the ‘teeth’ of the favourite stuffed animal, or even of their parents*, at the same time.
  4. Make it a game
    • Use your imagination and have fun with it. The more relaxed you are, the more relaxed they will be.
      • We suggest a game of ‘search and find the sugar bugs’ in their mouths. Don’t rest until you have found them all
      • This can also be a great occasion for tickle-time. The bigger the laugh, the easier to get to those new molars!
  5. Let them select their gear
    • Take your toddler to the store and allow them to select their own toothbrush and toothpaste (fluoride-free until they know how to spit!)**. Sometimes all it takes is a Peppa Pig themed toothbrush to get your toddler to open wide.

And there you have it – our top 5 tips on getting your toddlers to open wide and ensure a good start to oral hygiene. If you have any questions about your toddler’s dental health, your local family dentist would be thrilled to discuss more.

*Desperate times, desperate measures!

** Check with your dentist if your toddler is a good fit for fluorinated toothpaste. If they are at high risk of tooth decay, your dentist may recommend using such toothpaste in a tiny, rice-grain size amount.


Top 5 tried, tested, and true tips for brushing your toddlers teeth

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