If your child simply refuses to brush their teeth, you’re far from being the only parent facing this struggle. Not only are kids pretty dang stubborn to start with, but they also make it a point to tell you how much they dislike the things they dislike. And sometimes one of those “things” is brushing their teeth.
Luckily, there are several ways that you can make tooth brushing more fun, as well as tips to make your child more inclined to get into a regular dental hygiene routine.
#1: Set a Good Example
You are your child’s first and biggest role model, and your behaviors have a huge impact on the way that they behave. If your child sees you regularly brushing your teeth, flossing, etc., they are much more likely to begin emulating those same behaviors.
One way you can use this to make tooth brushing more fun for your child is to brush your teeth at the same time as them and act as a mirror by encouraging them to copy exactly what you are doing. This can turn brushing teeth into a fun little game, and it may make your child more inclined to brush their teeth each day.
When your child sees you brushing your teeth, they will put the pieces together and understand that it is something everyone has to do. You can even take this one step further and turn toothbrushing into a family activity where the whole house brushes their teeth at the same time.
#2: Make Toothbrushing a Fun Daily Activity
There are also a few ways you can turn toothbrushing into something fun and exciting for your child. Since it is recommended that you brush your teeth twice a day, for two minutes each time, turning toothbrushing into something fun can make your kids more likely to brush for the entirety of those two minutes.
For example, buying your child a toothbrush that plays music for two minutes can encourage them to brush until the song ends, or manually putting on music by yourself while your child brushes can have the same effect.
Additionally, offering simple rewards to your child if they brush their teeth can help encourage them to do so. Rewards can be anything they enjoy, from staying up a little bit later to having a family movie night to watch a movie of their choice -- anything fun and special will do.
#3: Stand Behind Them and Guide Their Brush
One of the simplest ways to help your child brush their teeth is to stand behind them, in front of the sink and mirror, and hold the hand that their toothbrush is in. This allows you to have some control over what they are doing, and allows you to guide their hand and basically brush their teeth for them. It can also make them feel more comfortable if they get nervous or are scared of brushing their teeth, while also ensuring that they are doing a good enough job.
My Child Won’t Brush Their Teeth Because They Hate the Toothpaste... What Do I Do Then?
If the reason your child is refusing to brush their teeth stems from their hatred for toothpaste, not to fear. Even if they brush their teeth without using toothpaste, it is better than nothing, and this way they will still get into the habit of brushing their teeth every day. Eventually, they will learn to use toothpaste, but if the best you can do right now is get them to brush without it, it is not the end of the world.
That being said, if you really do want your child to brush using toothpaste, there are still some ways to get them to cave.
For example, you can purchase toothpaste that is specifically designed for kids, which means it may come in fun, colorful packaging or fun flavors. Dr. Brite’s Kids Mineral Toothpaste comes in the flavor Strawberry Sky and boasts colorful, bright red packaging to get your child excited about toothbrushing. This product is also fluoride and sulfate-free, and it is safer for swallowing than other toothpastes in case your child happens to do so.
If your child is more of a chocolate fiend and does not love fruity flavors, you can also choose Dr. Brite’s Healthy Gums Toothpaste in the flavor Chocolate Mint. Choosing a toothpaste with a fun and exciting flavor can get children excited because it feels special to them.
If your child still refuses to use toothpaste even after trying fun flavors, it might be worth a shot to use mouthwash with a cool flavor to supplement their toothpaste-less brushing. Dr. Brite’s alcohol-free Healthy Gums Mouthwash comes in a Wildberry flavor, making it kid-friendly and fun. An alcohol-free mouthwash means your child won’t be turned off by the intense feeling of a regular mouthwash, and it also means that is safe in case your child ends up swallowing some of it.
My Child Can’t Stand Still Long Enough to Brush, How Can I Work With This?
If you have a bubbly and energetic child who just can’t seem to stand still long enough to give their teeth a good brushing, roll with it. Make toothbrushing a dance party by putting on one of their favorite songs and dancing around with them while they brush. Tell them that they get to choose the song to make it feel even more fun!
If this does not work, you can also try helping them get their energy out before it is time to brush their teeth. Play their favorite game, run with them in the yard, or pick another fun activity that lets them move around and tire themselves out, but make sure you tell them that they have to brush their teeth afterwards before going to bed, so that they don't get surprised and upset when the time comes to brush those teeth.
What If My Child Just Has a Sensitive Mouth?
Maybe your child hates toothbrushing because they have sensitive teeth and gums, or they just hate the way it feels in general. If this is the case, choose a toothbrush that is the softest available.
Picking a brush that is marketed towards children can help ensure that it will be gentle and easy for them to manage, and they will get used to it over time. Assure them that it won’t feel so strange anymore if they consistently brush.
The earlier you are able to start getting your child used to toothbrushing, the more successful the routine will become in the long run. Consult your dentist for information about how soon you should start brushing your child’s teeth. Once your child has an oral hygiene routine, they will get used to brushing their teeth every day and it will be less of a battle with them when toothbrushing time rolls around.
Some kids can be particularly picky when it comes to brushing their teeth, making oral hygiene one more daily battle to take care of. Some children can’t stand the taste of toothpaste while others find toothbrushing uncomfortable and strange-feeling, making them turn against it.
Luckily, kid-friendly oral hygiene products exist that can help make tooth brushing more fun. Toothpastes with fun flavors, such as fruit or chocolate flavors, can entice your child and encourage them to take care of their teeth, and playing music during toothbrushing can make it more fun for them to brush their teeth for the recommended two minutes.
Setting a good example for your child can also make a difference when it comes to your child’s dental hygiene behaviors. Let them watch you brush your teeth or floss so that they are more likely to copy those behaviors, since children tend to model the things their parents do. Standing behind your child and guiding their hand while they brush their teeth is another great strategy, because it gives you more control over the situation while still getting them acclimated to the feeling of brushing their teeth themselves.
Whatever the reason may be for your child’s disinterest in toothbrushing, there are ways to crack the code, ultimately making them more comfortable. Over time, your child will get used to brushing their teeth and will settle into a tooth brushing routine as a result, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to make it a fun experience to encourage them in the meantime!