Help! My Child Won’t Brush Their Teeth

Oral hygiene is crucial for children of all ages, even before the first tooth erupts. Studies have shown that children with a fear of the dentist are more likely to experience cavities and tooth decay, compared to those without dental anxiety. If your child refuses to brush their teeth, there are many techniques you can try. Check out these parenting tips for when your child won’t brush their teeth.

Common Reasons Children Hate Brushing Their Teeth

Often the best way to solve a problem is to figure out what the root cause is. In this case, you need to determine what specifically your child hates about brushing their teeth.

Does your kid not like the feeling of the toothbrush or bristles? That may be related to sensory issues. Is your child in a phase where they don’t like to be told what to do? If so, you might restructure your approach to make it seem like your child is choosing to brush his teeth.

Toddlers and young children may not like brushing their teeth because it requires them to stand in one place for a prolonged stretch of time. Some children do not like the taste of certain toothpaste, or they don’t like standing on a stool by the sink.

Try to figure out what’s really bugging your child, and then you can decide what tooth brushing techniques work best for them.  

How to Make Teeth Brushing Fun and Exciting

Here are some strategies to encourage your child to brush their teeth:

  • Make tooth brushing a fun moment for the family. Incorporate this into your nightly routine, and get excited about it! Your children will feed off your energy.
  • Stand behind your child when you brush their teeth. This applies mostly to younger kids and fussy toddlers who don’t want to sit still. Standing behind will put you in a good position to hold your child without hurting either of you.
  • Sing a song while you brush. This serves two purposes. It distracts your child from the teeth brushing, and it ensures that your kid brushes long enough. Some toothbrushes have built-in music, but you can also pick a song to sing on your own. The alphabet song and Itsy Bitsy Spider are classics that fit the timing well.
  • Let your child choose his toothpaste and toothbrush. Just make sure that the products you choose are age-appropriate.
  • Create a consistent routine for teeth brushing. Kids thrive with repeat scheduling. The sooner this becomes a habit, the more at-ease your kid will feel. Find a rhythm that works well based on your schedule, and stick with it every morning and night.

Things to AVOID When Brushing Your Child’s Teeth

Never make brushing teeth or going to the dentist a punishment for a child. We’ve seen plenty of parents say, “Don’t do that or I’m taking you to the dentist!” This tells your child that seeing the dentist is a bad experience they should hate.

It’s also important to lead by example. If your child doesn’t see you brush your teeth twice a day, they’re far less inclined to do so themselves. If you use the “family time” tooth brushing hack, your child will consistently see an example of good oral hygiene.

And if you have dental anxiety, try not to how it. We know this isn’t easy, but once again, your child feeds off your energy. If you know you’re going to be nervous before going to the dentist, you may want to run an ‘errand’ ahead of time so you can leave the house before the nerves sink in.

The Right Pediatric Dentist Can Make All the Difference

A good pediatric dentist can reinforce all the hard work you’re doing at home. They’ll make teeth brushing fun and exciting, all while providing personalized support for your child. Clinton Dental Center is a family-friendly environment for pediatric dentistry, general dentistry, family dentistry and adult dentistry. Give us a call at (586) 949-5363 to meet our top-rated pediatric dentist in Chesterfield MI.