One of the questions I get asked most often by my mom friends is how I get my kids to brush their teeth. I have a 2 year old and a 10 month old, both girls. I wish I had a great and easy solution to offer my friends, and to offer all of you, but the sad truth is I don’t. My two year old is very strong willed. She is independent, determined, and self-sufficient. She is definitely taking the terrible twos by storm. The one thing I refuse to let her go without is clean teeth at bedtime. I may give up the fight about what clothes to wear, or if her shoes need to match, or whether or not paint brushes are allowed in the living room, but the tooth brush she knows I don’t give up on.

For her consistency is really the key. We try for the morning, but whatever happens, without fail, every night they are brushed. I usually brush them while we are in the bath tub because she enjoys bath time and is slightly distracted. It took me a while, but my sister-in-law found a great toothbrush my daughter loves called The Firefly. Here is a link to the one she got at Target:

The toothbrush is nothing amazing, but it does light up when you push the button and keeps blinking until you are done brushing your teeth. More often than not my daughter also requests to bring it to bed with her so she can light it up in the dark. The “light toothbrush,” as she calls, it we reserve specifically for teeth brushing, but we also have lots of other toothbrushes around the house. Ones that she can play with, or brush her dolls teeth with, anything to just get her used to the idea in general. We had our fair share of fights (and I mean fights) in the beginning, and we still do on occasion, but I do not give up. Even if I can only brush when she opens her mouth to yell at me, but don’t worry. It does get better. Like most everything else about being a parent it takes incredible patience and repetition.

I know being a parent can be incredibly tough. And sometimes you feel like you just can’t take one more toddler tantrum. There are other ways to help reduce your child’s risk of cavities if they consistently refuse brushing. One of the most important would be to not let them have anything sugary immediately before bed time. (This includes juice and milk!) If they like to have milk before beds make sure they rinse out with water afterwards and they don’t take the bottle to bed with them. Cut down on any food throughout the day that is sticky (think gummies, raisins, jelly) this can coat their teeth and be difficult to get off without a brush. Discuss with your dentist if your child is getting enough fluoride for their habits (more on this in a future post.) And lastly take them to the dentist early and more often if you think they may be at risk for decay. You can do it! And your child will greatly benefit from all of your hard work.

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