Updated by Ashley Crowe on February 28, 2022
Does getting your child to brush their teeth feel like a workout without the gym? If it’s turned into a chore you’re starting to dread, you’re not alone. We've all been there – running after our little ones, pleading with them to just brush their teeth.
Did you know February is National Children’s Dental Health Month? We didn’t either, but now that you know think of us as your tooth fairy Godmother. Dental health affects our overall health. And our kids depend on us to show them the correct way to brush and floss.
But, getting them to do it (or getting your toddler to let you help), that’s the challenge. But it’s not impossible! Here are 7 fun ways to make their daily teeth brushing enjoyable without the struggle!
Play a Song
Dentists agree that brushing for at least 2 minutes is one of the best ways to keep your pearly teeth polished. To a tired 3-year-old, 2 minutes is way too long. Suddenly they’re too tired to move or even open their mouths, or they’re hungry. And now you’ve got a problem.
Your fun solution: music! Music makes the time go faster, the process more enjoyable, and overall lifts their mood. You can distract your child by making them laugh as you dance along to the song.
Here are some of our favorite (and only mildly annoying) tooth brushing songs:
- Tooth Brushing Song by Blippi,
- Elmo’s Brush Your Teeth,
- Brush Your Teeth by Raffi.
- Pinkfong’s Brush Your Teeth
- Brush My Chompers by Patty Shukla
- Brush to the Beat by Mickey Mouse
Make It a Family Event
Our children love to look to us for guidance. We set examples for them every day, even when we don’t realize it. Having everyone brush and floss together sets the perfect example. So gather everyone up and brush away (twice a day!).
If your child has an older sibling they look up to, have the big kid show off their brushing skills and encourage your littlest one to do the same. If they’re always copying their sibling, this tip works like a charm.
Brush and Play
Pretend play gives children a sense of independence. Through play, they can learn brushing skills and grow their confidence. Want to give it a try?
By letting them become the dentist, this play can also help lessen any fear they may have of the dentist’s office.
Allowing them take a look in your mouth will show them you’re not afraid of the dentist.
If you’re up for it, let them brush your teeth. Guide them while sharing compliments of their excellent work.
Now it’s time for them to try it on themselves. Get the toothpaste ready and hand them their brush.
Brush their teeth while they help guide, explaining what you’re doing and why.
Here’s a fun, teacher-approved song about how dentists are here to help. It’s perfect for dentist pretend play.
Try a Reward System
Consistency is key, especially for kids. Creating a reward system (like a sticker chart) may motivate them to brush their teeth every morning. Every time they brush, invite them to place a sticker on their chart. Need fun sticker options? We’ve got you covered with our variety pack of stickers (including scratch and sniff for sensory fun)!
To enhance the power of the chart, add small prizes or activities at the end of the week or month – if they haven’t missed a day. But don’t burn a hole in your pockets. These rewards can be small trinkets, a special ice cream outing, or even some of our free downloadable activity books!
Let Them Choose
We all get excited about new things – and a new toothbrush is no exception. Brushing with a fun character on the toothbrush may be just the motivation your child needs to brush their teeth. Or maybe they would enjoy the hum of an electric toothbrush. If it helps them get excited, give it a try.
Sometimes, children may not like brushing their teeth because of sensory issues.
- The bristles on a particular brush are too stiff
- The temperature of the water is too cold
- The taste of the toothpaste is too sweet
Try asking your child what temperature they like best, which flavor of toothpaste tastes good, and which toothbrush style they favor. Discovering what helps them feel comfortable with brushing will relieve stress for both of you.
Once kids learn to count, they love showing off this new skill. If counting is all the rage, try using it to your advantage. Tell your child you will brush on one side of their teeth for ten seconds. Ask them to count to ten with you (this is likely to result in some giggles). Then congratulate them and move on to the next section and continue the counting until their whole mouth is clean.
Print a Step-By-Step Picture
Often, seeing a diagram of what we have to do helps us get to the finish line faster. You can print a picture of an animated, step-by-step guide to teach teeth brushing. Try framing it on the wall next to the sink or simply bring it to the bathroom every night before teeth brushing.
Your child can feel self-sufficient as you let them take the initiative. As you brush their teeth, ask them to help you by sharing which step comes next. After a while, they may want to take it further and brush their own teeth as they follow along with the picture.
Brushing Teeth Can Be Fun for Everyone!
While these steps make brushing your child’s teeth more fun, it’s also important to help dentist visits become exciting. Regular visits to the dentist are critical for early detection of dental problems.
Plus, dentists have specific tools to deep clean those chompers and remove any stubborn plaque. If going to the dentist is a happy event, they learn early that dental care is essential from professionals who care just as much as you do.
In the spirit of keeping teeth brushing fun, download our FREE printable booklet — Let’s Take Care of Our Teeth! These activity sheets provide hours of fun while reinforcing the importance of good dental care.
Your children’s teeth are very important. They can affect their face shape and even how they talk and eat. It’s also a major factor in their self-confidence later in life. Keeping their teeth healthy with these fun tips will instill good habits and create magnificent memories along the way! It doesn’t have to feel like a chore anymore.
For more ideas on making family memories (with or without the brush and toothpaste), follow us on social @PLBFun.