How To Get Toddler To Brush Teeth?

Last Updated on November 9, 2023 by Marjorie R. Rogers

To get your toddler to brush their teeth, make it a fun and engaging activity by using colorful and child-friendly toothbrushes and toothpaste. Introduce a brushing routine early on and make it a habit by brushing together as a family.

How To Get Toddler To Brush Teeth?


Encouraging Active Participation

Getting toddlers to brush their teeth can be a struggle for many parents. However, by encouraging active participation, you can make toothbrushing time a fun and enjoyable experience for your little one. Engaging them in the process not only helps develop good oral hygiene habits but also makes them more likely to cooperate willingly. Here are some effective strategies that can help you foster active participation in your toddler’s dental care routine.

Making It A Game

One way to encourage your toddler to brush their teeth is by turning the activity into a playful game. Children love to have fun, and incorporating games can make them more enthusiastic about brushing. Consider creating a toothbrushing challenge, where they have to brush for a certain duration or complete a specific number of brush strokes. You can use a colorful chart or a sticker reward system to track their progress. Making it a competition between siblings or family members can also add an element of excitement.

Choosing A Fun Toothbrush

The choice of toothbrush plays a crucial role in engaging your toddler during toothbrushing time. Look for toothbrushes that are specifically designed for children and feature their favorite cartoon characters or vibrant colors. Let your toddler pick their own toothbrush from a selection of options at the store. By giving them a sense of ownership and allowing them to make the choice, they’re more likely to be excited about brushing. Additionally, consider getting toothbrushes with flashing lights or musical features that make the process even more enjoyable.

Using Toothpaste With Flavors

Another way to encourage active participation is by using toothpaste with appealing flavors. Many toothpaste brands offer a variety of kid-friendly flavors such as strawberry, watermelon, or bubblegum. The pleasant taste can make toothbrushing more enjoyable for your toddler and reduce resistance. However, make sure to choose toothpaste that is specifically formulated for kids and contains safe levels of fluoride suitable for their age.

Singing A Toothbrushing Song

Singing a toothbrushing song can turn the mundane routine into a fun and interactive experience. You can create your own toothbrushing song using familiar tunes or find catchy, educational toothbrushing songs online. Singing along while brushing their teeth can help distract your toddler from any discomfort or resistance they may feel. It also serves as a useful timer, ensuring they brush for the recommended two minutes. Make sure to incorporate plenty of enthusiasm and encourage your toddler to join in!

Establishing A Consistent Brushing Schedule

Getting your toddler to brush their teeth may seem like a challenging task, but establishing a consistent brushing schedule can make it easier and more manageable. By creating a routine that your little one can follow and incorporating visual aids, alarms, and timers, you can help ensure that brushing becomes a regular part of their daily life. In this article, we will explore these effective strategies in detail.

Set Regular Times For Brushing

One of the first steps in establishing a consistent brushing schedule for your toddler is to set regular times for brushing. Consistency is key when it comes to developing good dental habits, as it helps your child understand that brushing their teeth is a non-negotiable part of their daily routine. Choose specific times that work well for both you and your toddler, such as after breakfast and before bedtime.

Creating A Visual Routine Chart

A visual routine chart can be a helpful tool in teaching your toddler about their brushing schedule. By visually illustrating the steps involved in brushing teeth, you can make the process more engaging and easier for your child to understand. Create a simple chart or poster with pictures or icons depicting each step, including wetting the toothbrush, applying toothpaste, brushing for two minutes, and rinsing. Hang this chart in your bathroom at your toddler’s eye level, so they can easily follow along.

Setting Alarms Or Reminders

Another effective way to establish a consistent brushing schedule is by setting alarms or reminders. Use your smartphone or a timer and set reminders at the designated brushing times. When the alarm goes off, your toddler will know that it’s time to brush their teeth. This method helps create a sense of routine and can be especially useful for those busy days when you may easily forget.

Using A Timer For Brushing

Timing your toddler’s brushing sessions is essential to ensure that they brush for the recommended two minutes. To make it more fun and interactive, consider using a timer specifically designed for brushing teeth. These timers often come in the form of sand timers or electronic toothbrushes with built-in timers. Let your toddler choose their favorite timer, making them more excited about the brushing experience. Encourage your little one to brush until the timer runs out, and praise their efforts along the way.

Creating A Calm And Relaxing Environment

Help your toddler develop good oral hygiene habits by creating a calm and relaxing environment for brushing their teeth. Make it enjoyable with a comfortable space, fun toothbrushes, and gentle guidance to make brushing a positive experience.

Creating a Calm and Relaxing Environment

When it comes to getting your toddler to brush their teeth, creating a calm and relaxing environment can make a world of difference. Toddlers can often be resistant to new routines or activities, so it’s important to create a peaceful atmosphere that will help them feel comfortable and willing to participate. In this section, we will explore some tips to create a soothing environment that will make toothbrushing a more enjoyable experience for your little one.

Turning on Soothing Music

Using soft and soothing music can provide a calming effect and help your toddler relax during toothbrushing time. Music has a way of making stressful situations more pleasant and enjoyable, and toothbrushing is no exception. Consider playing some gentle tunes that your child likes while they brush their teeth. This can help distract them from any anxiety or fear they may have and make the toothbrushing process more enjoyable for everyone involved.

Using a Soft Night Light

A soft night light can create a cozy and calming atmosphere in the bathroom, making it easier for your toddler to feel relaxed and secure while brushing their teeth. The gentle glow of a night light can alleviate any fears of the dark and create a sense of comfort. This simple addition can help your toddler feel at ease and make toothbrushing time a positive experience.

Providing a Comfortable Step Stool

Using a step stool that is the right height for your toddler can make them feel more secure and comfortable at the sink. This will enable them to reach the faucet and brush their teeth easily. By providing them with a stable platform, it eliminates any fear of falling or struggling to reach the sink. This small adjustment can greatly contribute to a calm and positive toothbrushing routine.

Using a Gentle Approach

No child enjoys having their teeth brushed forcefully or aggressively. Using a gentle approach during toothbrushing is crucial in creating a relaxing environment and fostering cooperation. Start by choosing a soft-bristled toothbrush specifically designed for toddlers. Use gentle, circular motions to clean their teeth and gums, allowing them to feel comfortable and at ease. Offering praise and positive reinforcement can also contribute to a calming environment, making toothbrushing a more pleasant experience for your little one.

Creating a calm and relaxing environment is key to getting your toddler to brush their teeth. Turning on soothing music, using a soft night light, providing a comfortable step stool, and using a gentle approach all work together to create an atmosphere that will help your toddler feel calm and willing to brush their teeth. By implementing these strategies, you can make toothbrushing a positive and enjoyable experience for your little one.

Providing Positive Reinforcement And Rewards

Getting toddlers to brush their teeth can be quite a challenge for many parents. One effective strategy is to provide positive reinforcement and rewards, which can motivate and encourage your little one to develop a consistent brushing habit. By implementing simple and fun techniques, you can make toothbrushing time an enjoyable experience for both you and your child.

Offering Verbal Praise And Encouragement

One of the easiest ways to provide positive reinforcement is through verbal praise and encouragement. Simple words of affirmation can go a long way in boosting your toddler’s confidence and making them feel proud of their brushing efforts. Remember to use enthusiastic and upbeat tones while praising their brushing skills. For example, you could say:

  • “Wow, you did an amazing job brushing your teeth!”
  • “I can see that you’re taking really good care of your teeth! Well done!”
  • “You’re such a superstar brusher! Keep up the great work!”

Using Sticker Charts Or Token Systems

A sticker chart or token system can be a fantastic visual tool to track your toddler’s progress and provide them with a sense of accomplishment. Start by creating a colorful chart with spaces for stickers or tokens. Each time your little one brushes their teeth, give them a sticker or token to place on the chart. Set a goal, such as earning a certain number of stickers or tokens, for them to receive a special reward.

Date Reward
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

Establishing A Rewards System

In addition to the sticker chart or token system, it’s helpful to establish a rewards system to further motivate your toddler. Choose rewards that align with their interests and encourage healthy habits. Some ideas include:

  • A special outing to their favorite park or playground
  • Extra playtime before bedtime
  • A new book or toy

Make sure the rewards are age-appropriate and something your child eagerly looks forward to.

Celebrating Milestones With Special Treats

Another effective way to reinforce positive behavior is by celebrating milestones with special treats. For example, after a week of consistent toothbrushing, you could surprise your little one with a small, enjoyable treat like a sugar-free popsicle or a fruit smoothie. This encourages your toddler to view toothbrushing as a rewarding experience without compromising their dental health.

Remember, every child is unique, and it may take some trial and error to find the most effective positive reinforcement and rewards system for your toddler. Be patient, consistent, and creative, and soon enough, your little one will actually look forward to brushing their teeth!

Dealing With Toddler Refusals Or Opposition

Getting your toddler to brush their teeth can often feel like a battle. However, with some patience and creativity, you can turn this daily task into a fun and enjoyable routine. In this article, we will explore different strategies to deal with toddler refusals or opposition when it comes to brushing their teeth.

The Reasons Behind Resistance

In order to effectively address your toddler’s refusal to brush their teeth, it’s important to understand the reasons behind their resistance. Toddlers may refuse to cooperate due to a variety of factors:

  • Fear or discomfort: Toddlers may be scared of the toothbrush or the sensation of brushing. They might associate it with pain or discomfort, especially if they have experienced dental issues in the past.
  • Independence: At this age, toddlers are striving for independence and asserting their autonomy. Brushing their teeth might be seen as an activity that interferes with their desire to do things on their own.
  • Sensory sensitivities: Some toddlers may have sensory sensitivities that make brushing their teeth a challenging experience. The taste, texture, or feeling of the toothpaste or toothbrush can be overwhelming for them.

To address these concerns, it’s crucial to approach toothbrushing with empathy and understanding. By acknowledging their feelings and addressing their specific needs, you can help make the process more comfortable for your little one.

Introducing Brushes As Toys

One clever way to overcome resistance is by introducing toothbrushes as toys. By presenting them as fun playthings, you can capture your toddler’s interest and make brushing a positive experience. Here are some ideas:

  • Choose toothbrushes with colorful handles or characters that your toddler loves. Let them pick their own toothbrush from a selection of child-friendly options.
  • Transform brushing time into a pretend play session. Encourage your toddler to brush the teeth of their favorite stuffed animals or dolls, turning it into a game.
  • Show your toddler how to make their toothbrush “dance” or “sing” as they clean their teeth. Be imaginative and create a story around brushing to engage their imagination.

By associating toothbrushes with playtime, you can make brushing more enjoyable for your toddler, increasing their willingness to participate.

Distracting With Storytelling Or Puppetry

Another effective strategy to overcome opposition is to distract your toddler during toothbrushing. Here’s how you can incorporate storytelling or puppetry into the routine:

  • Create a simple storytelling routine around brushing teeth. Invent a character or use your toddler’s favorite stuffed animal as a “tooth brushing buddy” who gets their teeth cleaned alongside them.
  • Use colorful finger puppets or hand puppets to entertain your toddler while brushing their teeth. You can make up silly voices for the puppets to keep your little one engaged.
  • Tell a short story or sing a toothbrushing song while your toddler brushes their teeth. This will divert their attention and make the process more enjoyable.

By incorporating storytelling or puppetry, you can distract your toddler from any discomfort or resistance they may have towards brushing their teeth, making it a fun and interactive experience.

Modelling Brushing Behavior

Children learn best through imitation, so modeling proper brushing behavior can have a positive impact on your toddler’s willingness to participate. Here’s how to encourage your little one to brush their teeth by modeling the behavior:

  • Brush your own teeth alongside your toddler. Let them observe and imitate your actions.
  • Make it a family affair by involving older siblings or other family members in the brushing routine. This can create a sense of togetherness and make the activity more enjoyable.
  • Highlight the positive effects of brushing by praising your toddler’s efforts and pointing out the clean and healthy teeth.

By consistently demonstrating proper brushing techniques and making it a shared experience, you can encourage your toddler to follow suit and develop good oral hygiene habits.

Addressing Sensory Issues And Discomfort

When it comes to getting your toddler to brush their teeth, sensory issues and discomfort can be a major roadblock. Many toddlers have sensitivities to certain textures and sensations, making the task challenging. However, with some patience and creativity, you can find strategies that help your child overcome these sensory obstacles and develop good oral hygiene habits.

One effective way to address sensory issues is to experiment with different toothpaste textures. Some children may dislike the slimy consistency of regular toothpaste. In such cases, consider trying toothpaste alternatives that come in a gel or foam form. 

By introducing these options, you can find a texture that your child is more comfortable with, thus increasing their willingness to brush their teeth. Additionally, opting for toothpaste with appealing flavors, such as strawberry or watermelon, can also make the experience more enjoyable for your toddler.

The toothbrush itself can also contribute to sensory discomfort. Some toddlers may find the bristles of a regular toothbrush too harsh or irritating. In such cases, switching to a softer or extra-gentle toothbrush can make a significant difference.

Look for toothbrushes specifically designed for young children, with extra-soft bristles that are gentle on the gums and teeth. Additionally, consider letting your child choose their toothbrush, as this can give them a sense of ownership and make brushing feel less daunting. Remember to replace the toothbrush regularly to maintain proper hygiene.

The uncomfortable sensation of brushing their teeth for an extended period can be overwhelming for some toddlers. Therefore, gradually increasing the brushing time can help them acclimate to the process.

At first, aim for short brushing sessions of just a few seconds, making sure to praise and reward your child for their efforts. As they become more comfortable, gradually increase the duration of each brushing session, until you reach the recommended two minutes. Using a visual timer or a favorite song as a toothbrushing anthem can keep your toddler engaged during the process.

If your child continues to struggle with sensory issues and discomfort related to toothbrushing, it may be beneficial to consult a pediatric dentist or therapist. These professionals specialize in working with children and can provide guidance tailored to your child’s unique needs.

A pediatric dentist can evaluate your child’s oral health, identify any underlying issues, and recommend specific toothbrushing techniques or tools. A therapist, such as an occupational therapist, can offer strategies to address sensory sensitivities and help your child become more comfortable with toothbrushing over time.

Remember, every child is different, and what works for one may not work for another. Experiment with these strategies and consult the appropriate professionals to find the approach that best suits your toddler’s dental hygiene needs.

Frequently Asked Questions For How To Get Toddler To Brush Teeth?

How Can I Make Brushing Teeth Fun For My Toddler?

Encourage your toddler by using colorful toothbrushes, playing their favorite song, or rewarding them with stickers afterward.

What Should I Do If My Toddler Refuses To Brush Their Teeth?

Try making it a game, letting them choose their toothbrush, or allowing them to brush their doll’s teeth alongside them.

At What Age Should My Toddler Start Brushing Their Teeth Regularly?

It’s recommended to start brushing your toddler’s teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts, around six months old.

How Can I Teach My Toddler The Proper Brushing Technique?

Demonstrate the correct technique yourself, let them practice on your teeth, and praise their efforts to keep them engaged.

Are There Any Tricks To Prevent My Toddler From Swallowing Toothpaste?

Use a small amount of toothpaste and supervise them closely to ensure they spit it out instead of swallowing.

What Should I Do If My Toddler Dislikes The Taste Of Toothpaste?

Experiment with different flavors or try using a toothpaste specifically designed for children to find one they enjoy.


Promoting good oral hygiene habits in toddlers can be a challenge, but with the right approach and patience, it is possible to get them to brush their teeth regularly. By making toothbrushing a fun and interactive experience, allowing them to choose their toothbrush and toothpaste, and setting a consistent routine, you can establish a healthy dental care routine that will set them up for a lifetime of good oral health.

Remember, consistency and positive reinforcement are key to success in this journey.

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