Let’s face it. Toddlers can be fickle creatures, and some more so than others. When it comes time to teach them how to brush their teeth, many parents feel like a battle with Goliath would be easier than getting their little one to open wide and keep those new teeth nice and clean.
The important thing to note is that dental hygiene is an important part of your child’s development that should begin early on, from the time their first tooth comes in. The two rows of baby teeth that develop in toddlerhood are place holders for adult teeth. According to a Health Centered Dentistry in Anchorage AK, without proper hygiene and dental upkeep, decay and poor formation can lead to difficulty chewing properly and speech problems. This is why implementing a routine and encouraging tooth care should be done as soon as your child can begin to understand.
Wiping gums after meals and before and after bedtime are precursors to the real deal. Once it comes time to begin teaching your toddler how to brush their teeth, there are a few tips you can try out to make the process fun for them, and easy for you.
Let Them Pick Their Own Toothbrush
New routines like teeth brushing can be off-putting to toddlers because it’s such a foreign concept. You can make them feel like they’re in on the whole thing from the start by letting them pick out their own toothbrush or toothpaste. There are plenty to choose from nowadays that sport the latest and greatest TV and movie characters, so your little one is bound to find the right brush for them.
As a parent, though, make sure that the brush has soft bristles and isn’t too big for them. Allow them to choose from the children’s section of toothbrushes and toothpaste specifically and ask your dentist if you’re not sure which would be a good fit for them.
Be an Example
Stress the importance of brushing teeth after meals, before and after bedtime, and before you leave the house. Children look up to their parents, so hearing you say things like, “Oh! Wait! I can’t leave until I brush my teeth!” will make them want to follow suit. If they’re adamant that tooth brushing is the bane of their existence, they may not show much interest at first, but keep encouraging them and you should begin to see results.
When you introduce brushing, show your toddler how it’s done first and then let them try on you. Reverse the roles and demonstrate on them as well. You can allow them to practice on their dolls or favorite stuffed animals to keep the idea minty fresh in their minds.
A Family Affair
Have both parents and any siblings make a big deal about brushing their teeth. Your toddler will want to join in on the fun, and you can begin to teach them the importance of brushing gently and thoroughly. Be sure you show them how much toothpaste is just the right size for their tiny teeth, even though you should never allow them to use any of it alone, or leave them unattended while brushing. Keep everything stored out of reach when it isn’t time to brush.
Lastly, have patience. Speak with your child’s doctor if there are any major challenges getting them to brush, but don’t be too hard on them. Patient persistence is key, and encouragement will always be more effective than scare tactics. Over time, you can instill good hygienic habits that your toddler will grow up with, and will keep their smiles happy and healthy.