Toddler Won’t Let You Brush Their Teeth? Try These Tricks!

Keeping a toddler’s teeth clean and healthy is essential for their oral health. However, many parents can relate to the challenge of getting their little ones to cooperate during teeth brushing time.

If your toddler refuses to let you brush their teeth, don’t stress—we’ve compiled a list of helpful tricks to turn this daily struggle into a smooth and enjoyable dental care routine.

Make It a Game

Transforming teeth brushing into an exciting game can get your toddler’s attention and make the experience more enjoyable. Use imagination and creativity to turn brushing into an adventure. For instance, pretend to be “tooth detectives” searching for hidden sugar bugs (plaque) or sing a catchy song together. Incorporating playfulness can engage your child and make them more willing to participate.

Lead by Example

Children learn by observing their parents and caregivers, so let your toddler see you maintain excellent oral hygiene. Invite them to “brush together” by providing a small toothbrush that they can use to imitate your movements while you brush their teeth. This interaction helps them understand the importance of brushing and builds familiarity and trust with the process.

Allow Independence

Toddlers often crave independence, so encouraging them to brush their own teeth can help establish a sense of autonomy. Children can start to learn to brush their teeth around the age of two [1]. Start by letting them hold their toothbrush while you guide their hand to ensure proper brushing technique. As they grow more confident, gradually shift to allowing them to brush independently under your supervision. Remember to step in and help with any missed spots.

Choose Fun Oral Care Products

Investing in toothbrushes featuring their favorite characters, superheroes, or vibrant colors can make brushing more exciting [2].

Let your child select their toothbrush at the store, empowering them to make a choice that reflects their personality and interests. This simple act can make the toothbrush feel special and appealing, encouraging their cooperation.

Choose products with the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance to ensure your child gets the appropriate cavity protection they need for a healthy smile.

Stick to a Tooth Brushing Routine

A consistent tooth-brushing routine establishes structure and familiarity, making it easier for toddlers to accept and anticipate brushing time.

Incorporate tooth brushing into their daily routine, such as before breakfast and bedtime. Consistency helps reinforce the importance of oral hygiene and makes it a non-negotiable activity, even when traveling or away from home.

Remember to brush their teeth two times a day [3]. If your child is old enough to start brushing on their own, continue to supervise them to ensure they do a good job.

Incorporate Rewards

Positive reinforcement can do wonders for motivating toddlers. Find out what motivates your little one and use that to encourage participation in daily brushing and flossing.

For example, consider creating a sticker chart or reward system where your child earns stickers or small treats for each successful tooth-brushing session. As they gather enough rewards, celebrate their achievement with a special treat or outing.

Once your child gets used to the brushing routine and continues to do well, you can decrease physical rewards but use verbal praise and encouragement to help them stick with it.

Ask Your Dentist

If you’re still encountering difficulties getting your toddler to cooperate with teeth brushing, consult a pediatric dentist. They specialize in working with children and can offer invaluable advice and strategies tailored to your child’s specific needs.

Encouraging toddlers to embrace teeth brushing can be challenging. However, with a little creativity, patience, and these helpful tricks, you can transform teeth brushing into an enjoyable experience for both you and your child.


Article Name
Toddler Won’t Let You Brush Their Teeth? Try These Tricks!
If your toddler refuses to let you brush their teeth, don’t stress—we’ve compiled a list of helpful tricks to turn this daily struggle into a smooth and enjoyable dental care routine.
Potomac Family Dentistry
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Dr. Ahmed Uthman
Dr. Uthman also began practicing general dentistry in 1997, and went on to gain advanced training in orthodontics in 2006. He is dedicated to his patients, and strives to provide treatments that address the underlying issues that cause most cosmetic conditions. He has a great amount of compassion for his patients, and believes that having a long lasting doctor/patient relationship helps to increase the quality and effectiveness of care. Due to his commitment to a high standard of care and additional training, Dr. Uthman is also recognized as an Invisalign Preferred Provider. Dr. Uthman spends much of his free time with his wife and daughters. He enjoys watching soccer matches, playing tennis, and has recently taken up golf as well. Dr. Uthman is trilingual, speaking Kurdish, Arabic, and English.