Brushing your toddler's teeth

We just adopted a toddler and our doctor suggested we begin to brush her teeth twice a day. Do you have any suggestions how to do this? It's a struggle of wills every time we try.

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You doctor is correct, however, it will take time for your new daughter to become accustomed to your routines. In the meantime, here are some techniques for brushing her teeth.

Let her hold the toothbrush first so she knows how it looks and feels outside of her mouth. Try using different flavors of toothpaste. It is possible that she just doesn't like the taste of the brand you are currently using. There are many children's toothpastes available, but be aware that some brands actually contain more sweeteners than regular toothpastes. Try giving her a very small bit toothpaste on your finger without placing it on the brush first. Determine if she is objecting to the toothpaste or the toothbrush or both.

Make sure you use a small soft bristled children's toothbrush. Work slowly and in small steps -- even if the first few times you really don't brush her teeth at all. Maybe just move the toothbrush around her mouth a little so she knows its not a painful experience.

If you can keep brushing from being a battle and more like a game, it's better for both parties. Brush your teeth first as a demonstration. Children often learn by imitating adults and this strategy may work, even at her young age.

If she still won't let you brush her teeth, perhaps you can start off by simply wiping her teeth with a damp cloth at bath time.

If you have trouble every night, you might try brushing in the morning, after lunch, or some other time of day. The most important thing is to be patient and work into this routine slowly so that her teeth stay healthy and she develops good oral hygiene habits for the future.

Sometimes starting a reward system works to get children interested in brushing their teeth although I personally would only use this method as a last resort.

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