Mother and Baby

How to get your toddler excited about brushing their teeth

Caring for your child’s teeth can be tricky, especially during the wriggly toddler years.

A report by Aquafresh has revealed 80 per cent of children throw temper tantrums and experience anger when it’s time to brush their teeth, meaning that one in 10 parents are sending their children to bed without brushing their teeth.

Just over 25 per cent of the parents surveyed said they do not believe their children brush their teeth correctly, and just under half (42%) confessed they have to force their children to clean their teeth.

However, with a few clever techniques, you can make your toddler excited to brush their teeth. Imagine! While your tot may be happy to suck toothpaste off a brush twice a day, how do you actually get in there and make sure his teeth are properly clean?

Tips for baby and toddler toothbrushing


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1) Play copycat

Clean your teeth first and then let them try to copy you. Show them how you brush by doing small circular movements, rather than brushing side to side.
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2) Let him go toothbrush shopping

Choosing a battery-operated brush with a favourite cartoon character can help win them round to teeth-cleaning sessions.
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3) Do it in sections

Encourage them to concentrate on one section of their teeth at a time, rather than random brushing all over. And make sure they cleans for long enough – a good guide is to sing happy birthday (slowly) once for the top teeth and once for the bottom teeth.
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4) Overdo the praise

When they cleans them well, make sure you give them masses of praise for being so clever, and tell him how pleased the dentist will be.
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5) Use a sticker chart

Try setting up a wall chart with a sticker for every time he cleans his teeth well. After 10 stickers, he gets a small toy or an outing with mummy (no sweets obvs!)
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6) Change toothpaste

If he’s making a fuss, he might not like your choice of toothpaste. Let him choose another one – but remember only use a smear of fluoride toothpaste, or a pea-sized amount if your child is three year or older.
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7) Visit the dentist

Even when your child is only just toddling, most dentists will be happy to see him to help get him used to the process of having his teeth checked. It can also help to have another adult with authority telling your toddler all about the importance of cleaning his teeth. The sticker at the end of the appointment helps too!

Top tips to encourage calmer toothbrushing:

  • Make brush time fun and brush your teeth when they brush theirs. Choose a time when you are not rushing to get to the office or school, or tired at the end of a long day. Take it in turns to brush each other’s teeth (but prepare to get a bit wet!). Encourage them to open their mouths wide by roaring like a lion!
  • Enlist the help of a sibling or encourage a sleepover friend. Younger children often look up to older siblings or family members so if your child is reluctant to brush, having a brother, sister or buddy who enjoys cleaning their teeth can really help.
  • Share books that involve teeth cleaning stories, such as ‘Brush Your Teeth Please’ by Leslie McGuire. It’s a pop-up book that is great fun and practical. Another good suggestion is Ladybird’s Peppa Pig Dentist trip.
  • Get into the habit of using ‘when’ and ‘then.’ If getting your children to brush their teeth is a struggle, try to create a habit. For example, “when you have cleaned your teeth, then we can have a cuddle and a story in bed”.
  • Use apps, egg timers, gadgets and reward charts. Rather than offering sweet treats, reward good brushing with star charts and stickers with a goal to work towards after achieving 10 stickers. This can be as simple as reading their favourite book, going to the park or playing a fun game. 

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