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Many parents have a daily fight on their hands when it comes to getting their toddlers to brush their teeth. It is extremely important for children to get into great oral hygiene habits from an early age. It is a worrying statistic that over 50% of Australian children over the age of 6 have tooth decay. So we have put together a list of ideas that may help brushing become a happy part of your toddlers daily routine.
1. Pick a favorite song and make it a game to brush your toddler’s teeth for the duration of the song. Ideally, for a small child, a thorough clean would take approximately 1 minute.
2. Give your child a sense of involvement and responsibility by taking them shopping and letting them choose the toothbrush and toothpaste they will use. This will make it special for them. Remember to only give them the choice of brushes and toothpaste that are age appropriate for your child.
3. Rewards systems work for many children. As an example, most children love a bedtime story. So why not make the bedtime story a reward for when the toddler brushes teeth before bed. Or incorporate brushing into a rewards chart, if at the end of the week they have achieved a set goal, they get the reward.
4. Make brushing a parent and toddler activity to do together. As many parents know, toddlers are often much happier to do a task when they are doing it together with mummy or daddy. It sets a good example and shows them that as grown-ups we have to do this as well. Plus, if they insist on doing it themselves, they can copy what you do. Or alternatively, let your child practice brushing your teeth with water and then its mummy or daddy’s turn to brush their teeth.
5. Use a gimmick toothbrush. You can purchase toothbrushes that flash for 1 minute, play music, a character brush or a battery-operated oscillating brush. These things add to the fun factor of brushing.
6. Introduce an appropriate brush to a child as soon as they start teething. The chewing motion can be soothing on gums and a lot of cleaning can be achieved without any effort from mum or dad. This may also prepare and desensitise them to the more formal brushing that comes later on.
7. If your toddler loves your ipad, download a free brushing app or browse youtube for brushing videos. These make brushing educational and fun for all age groups.
Keep coming up with new creative ways or use a combination of our ideas to keep things interesting! Being persistent is well worth it in the long run. We also recommend parents start bringing children for a visit to the dentist from about the age of two.