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Coaxing the Stubborn Child to Brush and Floss

Lots of kids would rather do most anything than brush their teeth, but most will give in and do the chore when prodded.  But then there’s the occasional strong-willed/stubborn child who won’t budge without tons of extra effort on your part.

There are some tricks you can use to get your child past this point and into the habit of brushing regularly.  First, though, check to make sure there isn’t something that’s causing the little one unnecessary discomfort from brushing.  Does the toothbrush have soft bristles?  Is the toothpaste mild enough so it doesn’t sting a tender mouth? If these issues are OK, then it’s time to experiment to find the right atmosphere to encourage brushing.

teeth brushingDon’t assume it’s going to be easy.  Just remember to NOT expect perfection no matter how you approach it.  Children’s developing dexterity skills hinder them from doing a thorough brush job.  Since toddlers enjoy copying parents and older siblings, start tooth brushing as a family event.

Experiment with different approaches to find the one best suited for your child.  Consider trying some of the tips below:

  • Use whatever toothpaste your child likes – it could be bubble gum flavor or the cartoon character on the tube
  • Purchase two identical brushes – one for the child and the other for you
  • Sit the child on the bathroom counter so he or she can see you brush your teeth – your little person will try to mimic you in no time. Allow them to rinse with water and “spit” in the sink. (Spitting is a favorite pastime!)
  • You can try allowing the child to brush your teeth while you brush theirs. But remember to NEVER share brushes and bacteria.

Don’t push if this doesn’t work. You don’t want to hurt or scare the child.

You might try allowing the child to climb on a footstool to see into the mirror. As you stand behind him or her, point to and count the child’s teeth. Let the child hold the brush and touch each tooth as you count them. This will help your son or daughter get comfortable with having a brush inside the mouth. Place a small amount of paste on the brush and name or count each tooth as it is brushed.

As the child becomes more willing, you can incorporate a favorite song as the child brushes.  We like “this is the way we brush our teeth, brush our teeth, brush our teeth so early in the morning or at bedtime” whichever time it is.

End each brush session with hugs and praises for a job well done!

The Charlotte Dentistry® family wants your child to have the best possible dental experience. Visit our website today to schedule your child’s first cleaning! Have Questions, visit our “Ask the Expert” for additional information.

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