Toddler Teeth Brushing: How Can I Get My 2-Year Old to Brush?

Good dental hygiene is important from the moment your child sprouts his first tooth, but oral care can be tricky when it comes to 2-year-olds who may not be thrilled about brushing and flossing. The trick to successful toddler teeth brushing is to make it a positive experience.

Like Parent, Like Child

Toddlers often love to mimic what their parents are doing. Use that to your advantage by brushing together with your child. Watching you brush your own teeth can make the process more interesting for your toddler, and you can set a great example at the same time. Stand in front of the mirror together as you brush so that your child can watch and copy you. Throw in a few funny faces while brushing to make things really exciting.

Sing a Song

Everything is more fun when set to music; toddler teeth brushing is no exception. Much like singing a cleanup song can help with picking up toys, a song about brushing will help get your child in the mood to brush. Find a song about brushing to sing to your child, or just make up something simple on your own. Make it part of your regular routine, either singing before you begin as a cue that it's time to brush or singing while you brush to keep the experience light and fun.

Brush with a Friend

Make brushing like playtime by including your toddler's favorite stuffed animal in the process. Let your child brush his teddy bear's teeth first and then brush his. Another fun variation on this idea is to let your child take a turn brushing your teeth before you brush his.

Pick a Fun Toothbrush

A toothbrush in your child's favorite color or adorned with a familiar character will make the process more fun. Another great way to interest your child is to empower him with choices. Children may fight brushing their teeth simply because they want more control. Since skipping oral care is not an option, give them choices about how they will brush instead. For example, you can give your child two toothbrushes and then let him make the choice of which brush he will use that day.

Try these simple tips to make brushing fun for your little one. Not all tactics will work for every child, but keep trying until you find what works best for you. Remember that even after your child gets into a regular oral care routine, it is still important to supervise your child's brushing until he is at least 6 years old and is able to brush properly on his own.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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How to FLOSS

  1. Pull 18 to 24 inches of dental floss from the floss dispenser.

  2. Wrap the ends of the floss around your index and middle fingers.

  3. Hold the floss tightly around each tooth in a C shape; move the floss back and forth in a push-pull motion and up and down against the side of each tooth.

How to BRUSH

  1. Place the toothbrush at a 45°angle along the gum line. Move the toothbrush in a back and forth motion, and repeat for each tooth.

  2. Brush the inside surface of each tooth, using the same back and forth technique.

  3. Brush the chewing surface (top) of each tooth.

  4. Use tip of brush to brush behind each tooth — front and back, top and bottom and up and down strokes.

  5. Be sure to brush your tongue to remove odor-causing bacteria.