Parents of toddlers know the struggle that goes into getting kids at this age to do pretty much anything. A toddler’s day can be one long “no:” No to getting dressed, no to putting on shoes, no no no. Getting them to brush their teeth is a challenge, and while you know as a parent how important it is to keep their teeth and gums healthy, you also know how strong-willed they can be.

Here are some tips for getting your toddler to brush their teeth (and even enjoy it!):

Exciting Tooth Tools

Toddlers often latch on to favorite books, songs, TV shows, and fictional characters. Use this to your advantage by picking out a toothbrush and toothpaste with a favorite character, or let your toddler help pick one out. Odds are your toddler will be more willing to brush their teeth if Elmo is part of the process. Just make sure the toothbrush and toothpaste you choose are age-appropriate and ADA recommended.

Songs and Podcasts

A tooth-brushing podcast for kids? The Chompers podcast offers a series of two-minute episodes (about the time it should take to brush teeth) aimed at keeping kids engaged while they brush. Episodes cover everything from robots to animals to folktales, and each episode has helpful reminders to switch to different areas of the mouth while brushing.

Some toddlers might be too young for a podcast, but many will respond well to fun songs. You can always find some inspiration online, or make up your own entertaining song. Make sure it’s long enough to encourage them to brush properly and be sure to customize it to their particular interests.

Engage the Imagination

Brushing their teeth twice a day might sound boring to busy toddlers, but what if they can pretend they’re a lion with huge teeth that need cleaning? Or a dragon who needs to polish their fangs? For most toddlers, adding in some imaginative play can get them engaged when they would otherwise struggle. Keep trying until you find something that sparks their interest.

Just Like Mom

Your toddler loves to do “grown-up” things just like mom or dad, so make sure they see you taking care of your own teeth. Invite them into the bathroom while you’re brushing and give them a rundown of what you’re doing. Tell them that you go to the dentist to make sure your teeth are healthy and introduce topics like flossing and mouthwash.

Besides helping your toddler brush their teeth regularly, there are other steps you can take to keep a toddler’s teeth healthy:

Keep sugary foods to a minimum. At this age, you still have a lot of control over what goes on their plate, even if you can’t make them eat their vegetables. By choosing water over sugary sodas, for example, you can build a foundation of healthy teeth.

Take them to a pediatric dentist. The ADA recommends taking kids to the dentist before their first birthday to stay ahead of any oral health issues. If you still haven’t scheduled your toddler’s first visit, don’t put it off any longer. Going to the dentist can be scary for young kids, so make sure to talk to them positively about it beforehand. You might act out what the visit will be like, or read a book about going to the dentist.

While it might seem impossible to help your toddler take care of their teeth, with some creativity and persistence you can instill healthy dental habits in even the youngest children. For more information about toddler dental health, or to schedule an appointment for anyone in your family, contact Simply Beautiful Smiles today.