Parent teaching toddler to brush teeth

How To Teach Your Toddler To Brush Their Teeth

Wondering how to teach your toddler to brush their teeth? When your little one was a baby you were fully in charge of their oral hygiene, but there comes a time when you need to hand over the routine of brushing your toddler’s teeth to them.

It is vital that the routine you’ve already established is continued and that your child starts learning to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing. 

According to the British Dental Association, the number one reason for children being admitted to hospital for a procedure under general anesthetic is tooth decay, so it’s crucial that the importance of brushing those pearly whites is impressed upon little minds.


How To Teach Your Toddler To Brush Their Teeth

Once your child turns two or three years old it’s time to start teaching them about self care. Of course every child is different and as their caregiver, only you will really know when the time is right to start teaching your toddler how to brush their teeth. 

Their developing motor skills and manual dexterity will play a big part in knowing if your child is ready for you to hand over the reins. 

So, let’s look at how to teach your toddler to brush their teeth.


  • Teach your child the basics of teeth cleaning 

Two toddlers learning to brush their teeth

To make sure your toddler is brushing their teeth correctly from the very start you need to lay down the basics. For example, tell them how to move the toothbrush – in small circular motions. You will need to guide their hand at first. 

Make sure they’re aware that they need to brush every tooth, front and back, and then spit out the toothpaste. (Contrary to popular belief no one needs to rinse right after brushing. It is more beneficial to keep the remaining toothpaste in the mouth so the fluoride can do its job).


  • Let them watch you or older siblings brush 

Parent teaching toddler to brush teeth in mirror

One of the best ways to learn something is to imitate it. Let your toddler watch you brush your own teeth or hang out in the bathroom with an older sibling who can also show them the ropes. Children learn by imitation: it’s sparked by their innate curiosity and also their desire to bond with you.


  • Make the experience fun!

Mother showing toddler how to brush teeth

Studies show that when learning something is enjoyable, we’re more likely to absorb and retain information. The same goes for how to teach a toddler to brush their teeth. Children love fun activities. And as adults we know that brushing our teeth generally doesn’t count as a fun activity. But your toddler doesn’t know that yet!

While you’re brushing your toddler’s teeth, or teaching them to brush their own teeth, make the experience a fun one by playing catchy children’s songs about brushing their teeth for the duration.


  • Establish a tooth brushing routine 

Father and son brushing teeth together

Making something part of a routine helps us stick to it. For this reason it’s important that you get your child into the habit of cleaning their teeth at the same time every day. For example after breakfast and before they go to nursery, and once again before bedtime.


What To Do When Your Toddler Refuses To Brush Their Teeth

But “my toddler refuses to brush his teeth!” So you’ve got a toddler who’s cottoned on to the fact that, actually, brushing your teeth isn’t the most fun of activities. That’s where you need to jump in and turn that perception right around. 

Dealing with a defiant toddler is never a barrel of laughs but good oral health care is so important that it’s one of those things that parents simply can’t let slide in return for an easier life. So how can you make brushing your toddler’s teeth more enjoyable for them? 

Our suggestion above about playing a fun song is one way to make tooth brushing time a little less of a chore. Here are some other ideas:


  • Tell a short, silly story each time they brush
  • Let your toddler choose their own fun, sparkly or character themed toothbrush
  • Bring their favourite teddy, doll or action figure to the bathroom and let them ‘brush’ their teeth too
  • Use a toothpaste for children that comes in an enticing flavour


Also bear in mind that if you have a toddler or child who refuses to brush his or her teeth, you will need to supervise them for as long as necessary to ensure that they’re actually getting the job done. The Royal College of Surgeons suggests that this could even be up to the age of 14.


Learning About Self-Care at Maryam’s Nursery

At Maryam’s we are firm believers in the importance of teaching toddlers about self care, whether that’s eating the right foods, being active, or teaching them how to brush their teeth.  

If you’re looking for a nursery near Tower Bridge and you’d like to learn more about how Maryam’s can help your child learn essential skills whilst having fun and making friends, please download a brochure for more information.

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Alternatively, if you are ready to book your private nursery tour, you can do so below – we look forward to meeting you soon!

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