Phew! What a rollercoaster ride it has been for you so far managing the frequent diapering and feeding needs of your little munchkin. When you’ve just been heaving a sigh of relief over things looking to settle down slowly and come in a routine, ‘hello’ say the sprouting new teeth of your infant, paving the way for toddler age!
So, is it time for a brushing routine just yet? Yes, you need to make sure the little pearls stay clean and they maintain good oral health. Teaching your toddler to brush their teeth isn’t going to be easy and it is bound to draw resistance when a brush is suddenly thrust into the mouth. The bristles feel uncomfortable and if you are using toothpaste, your toddler will wonder what the frothy substance in the mouth is.
Read on for some handy tips on how you can get your toddler to understand that brushing will always be an integral part of their everyday routine.
Be Gentle and Not too Pushy
The idea is for your baby to accept brushing their teeth regularly and not to make them harbour resentment or a loathsome attitude towards it. If you are forceful, it may create a dental phobia that will continue to harrow your child’s mind in the growing years.
Brush Your Teeth in Front of Your Child
When you show your toddler that you brush and floss your teeth every day, it sends an effective message to the little brain that it is something necessary to do every morning and night. Be the role model for your little ones and let them follow the cues.
Make Brushing Fun Like Playtime
Break into a jig, sing a song like, “this is the way we brush our teeth, brush our teeth early in the morning…la la la” and make sure loads of laughter ensues while you are helping your child get into the brushing habit.
Do it consistently till the time you see a willingness in them to brush their teeth happily and without insistence.
You can also consider showing your child videos of cartoon or animated characters brushing their teeth to get their interest level soaring.
Brushing Properly is the Key!
Mere brushing doesn’t work unless properly done. Brushing the teeth well is absolutely critical for their good health. It is a good idea to assist your child till about the age of 6 or 7 with brushing to rule out oral infections and gum diseases in the later age.
Start with lesser time initially but go on to spending two minutes for cleaning your little one’s teeth thoroughly but do it with soft strokes.
Use a soft-bristled, age-appropriate toothbrush with water and replace it every three to four months if worn out or frayed.
Using Toothpaste is Optional
When you begin with brushing your toddler’s teeth from a young age, start without toothpaste to avoid them swallowing it or gagging at the weird taste. Using toothpaste can also be a messy affair if your child is too small. Gentle strokes with the brush without toothpaste effectively remove food particles lodged between the teeth and prevent plaque build-up.
Brush in Front of the Mirror
Make your child stand in front of the mirror while you stand behind them and brush their teeth. This way, toddlers are able to see exactly how you are cleaning their teeth and, when done consistently, such sessions will help them learn the art of brushing properly right from their formative years.
Don’t Attach Negative Responses for Not Brushing
Keep in mind that you must not threaten the child for not showing willingness to brush. A threat or a punishment can work negatively on the psyche of a developing child and could make them hate the idea of brushing altogether.
The Right Time to Start is Now!
Don’t sweat it out too hard for a year or two since your toddler will not allow you to reach the crevices and far ends just yet. The teeth are sprouting slowly and its okay if you aren’t able to manage perfect brushing for your little one. The idea is to get them into a healthy habit and understand the technique of cleaning their teeth.
Start with once a day when your toddler is just about 2 years old and progress to twice daily when he or she has settled well into the morning routine to prevent sticky foods from staying in the mouth all night and decaying the teeth.
Happy brushing and narrating tales of the tooth fairy to your little one! :)