Teaching your toddler good oral hygiene habits can be challenging. I mean, what isn’t challenging with a 3-year-old? They are often resistant to routines and impatient with self-care. However, you need to instill the importance of brushing and flossing from an early age to avoid dental problems down the road. With some patience and creativity, you can get your little one on board!
Our team is happy to help. We see kids ages 3 and up for gentle exams and cleanings. Our friendly team makes it as fun as possible for your child, with cartoons on TV and stickers. We recommend you bring them in every six months, so we can monitor their oral development and address any problems as they happen. As with adults, early intervention is the key to easy treatment.
In the meantime, here are some tips to help make your child more engaged with their daily brushing and flossing:
- Let Them Choose Their Tools – Let them pick out their own child-sized toothbrush with a favorite cartoon character or color. Having ownership helps motivate them. An electric brush makes it more fun. Luckily, the stores have plenty of kid-friendly choices now. Just make sure to get one with soft bristles and a head that will easily fit into their mouth. While you’re at it, let them pick a toothpaste in a flavor they’ll like too.
- Brush to Music – Use a musical toothbrush or toothbrush timer. The two-minute songs or signals make it less boring. Go ahead and bust out some moves and make it a dance party!
- Challenge Them to a Contest – Toddlers can be super competitive. Challenge them to a contest to see who can brush the most teeth.
- Reward Good Habits – Set up a reward system with a daily sticker chart or weekly prize. Just like adults, your toddler will be more likely to do a good job if they are rewarded for it. There’s a reason so many preschool teachers use this idea – it works!
- Show Them How to Do It – Demonstrate proper technique and let them mimic you. You can also explain why brushing is important. Tell them bacteria in their mouth are the bad guys, and brushing and flossing are the best ways to beat them.
- Brush and Floss at Bedtime – Include brushing and flossing in their bedtime routine. This helps signal it’s time to get ready for bed.
- Praise Their Good Efforts – Toddlers love praise! Compliment them when they do a good job to positively reinforce good oral hygiene habits.
- Know When to Walk Away – Don’t battle if they resist. Fighting them will just make them dig in their heels and resist even more. Stay calm and make it quick. Try again at the next brushing.
With consistent practice brushing and flossing twice a day, your toddler will get used to the routine. Make it more fun than a chore and celebrate their small successes. Instilling good habits now helps ensure your child has healthy teeth for life.