5 Habits To Develop If Your Toddler Will Not Brush Their Teeth

While some toddlers love brushing their teeth, others will run away as soon as you pull out the tooth brush. While you can try to coax your child into brushing their teeth, sometimes you will realize that brushing is not possible. After skipping a few brushing sessions, you may begin to worry about tooth decay and gum disease. Whether it is a short phase of toddler-defiance or a long term refusal to brush, it is important that you develop other healthy oral habits to compensate for the lack of brushing in your child's life. 

Make Water Their Primary Drink

Toddlers tend to drink often throughout the day. If you are giving your toddler juice or formula, they may be at higher risk for tooth decay. This is because the sugars in milk, juice, and formula combine with the bacteria in a toddler's mouth and produce acid that can destroy your child's enamel. Water actually helps rinse the mouth of debris and does not promote bacterial growth, so make sure your child drinks plenty of water as opposed to other drinks throughout the day. 

Since you will be offering water, you may want to check to see if your local tap water is fluoridated. If it is not, speak to your child's dentist about a fluoride treatment or supplement.  

Wean Off the Bottle and/or Breast

If your toddler has constant access to a bottle or your breast throughout the day and night, they may be at risk from baby-bottle decay. If your toddler feeds throughout the night, the milk or formula can pool against their teeth and promote decay. To prevent this, begin to wean your toddler away from nighttime feedings and brief nursing sessions throughout the day. Instead, offer one or two nursing sessions or bottles, and then wipe your toddler's teeth clean with a wet cloth when they have finished. Wiping is generally faster than brushing, and most toddlers are less resistant toward it. 

Schedule Meal and Snack Times 

Many toddlers enjoy grazing throughout the day and eat one or two bites of snack foods multiple times every hour. Unfortunately, this encourages the constant production of acid in their mouths, which will lead to tooth decay. Scheduling three meals and two snacks throughout the day reduces the amount of grazing your child will do and cuts down on the amount of brushing they will have to do to maintain healthy teeth. 

Include Plenty of Dairy in Their Diet

The best foods for oral health include fiber-rich vegetables and fruits, such as apples, and dairy products such as cheese. Fiber can act as a natural brushing action against your child's teeth. Dairy helps produce saliva, which dilutes the acid in your child's mouth and gives your child the minerals that they need to maintain strong teeth. Make sure you include plenty of these healthy options in your child's diet, and limit sweets and carbohydrates that can increase bacteria activity. 

Schedule More Dental Visits 

If your child refuses to brush for a long period of time, you may need to schedule professional cleanings more often. Your child may cooperate with their dentist because it is a unique, interesting situation. However, if they are still refusing to allow brushing, you may want to consider regular cleanings using sedation dentistry. 

While you are discussing a schedule for your child, you should ask about sealants and fluoride treatments that can help strengthen your child's teeth against decay. 

Although all of these habits help defend against tooth decay, the best way to prevent cavities is regular brushing. You should continue to encourage your toddler to allow you to brush their teeth by showing them how you brush your own teeth and by giving your toddler plenty of opportunities for brushing. For more information or advice, contact a dental office such as Apollo Dental Center.