Dental care: Toddler brushing and flossing tips

My 15-month-old son hates to get his teeth brushed. He struggles with us, refuses to open his mouth, and generally throws a huge fit. Do you have any suggestions that can help us make teeth brushing a more pleasurable experience for him?

Question:

Tips for Brushing

It is perfectly fine to let your child hold the brush first, and to let them "brush" their teeth themselves. Then, tell your child, "Okay, now it's Mommy's or Daddy's turn to try." If you can keep it from being a battle and more like a game, it's better for both parties. Just like coming to the dentist, we don't want brush time to be drudgery. Parent's, however, shouldn't always let young children brush teeth by themselves because they don't do a great job, but a couple of nights here and there won't hurt.

Tips for Flossing

This can be more tricky. Again, if you can make it like a game or have the child watch Mommy or Daddy do it, this approach sometimes works. Depending on how old your child is, a parent can explain that brushing and flossing helps to keep away the "sugar bugs" that can build houses in their teeth, which is not a good thing. Also, if there's a night or two here or there when its late or the child is cranky, it's okay to skip flossing. If a parent has trouble every night, you might try flossing in the morning, after lunch, or some other time of day. The most important teeth to floss in a child are the back teeth.

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