Brushing teeth: How to convince a toddler to let you.

Last week, I wrote about my silly trick for cutting toddler’s nails. As promised, I’m now sharing how we convince our two year old twins to let us brush and scrub their teeth. Just like with nail cutting, they used to happily let us scrub away at their teeth but again, something changed and brushing teeth became another battle. Sometimes they wanted to just do it themselves and other times one or the other wouldn’t even open their mouth.

Knowing you can’t rely on a toddler to effectively clean every tooth, we needed to come up with a solution that would let us do it. Maybe I’m just secretly wanting an acting career because after a bath, when they are dried and dressed for bed, mummy will go into the bathroom and out will come ‘Mummy dentist’. Surprisingly, Mummy dentist looks identical to Mummy but there is often a posh accent as I call for my first patient.

Brushing teeth

“Miss Jessica May, please come and sit on Daddy chair.” Yes that’s right, if you though me pretending to be a dentist was mad, Stu gets the coverted role of chair in our little charade. The girls will take turns to sit on Daddy chair (who also moonlights as Daddy hairdresser to save time too). “Lovely to see you today, open wide”.

I started doing this soon after our first dentist trip. I’d prepped the girls so much for what might/might not happen, that they actually enjoyed the visit and then afterwards they pretended to be dentists. I guess you have to seize the opportunity and go with it.

As I brush, I chatter away in my best dentist voice, what ever that is. “What lovely teeth you have” I say and point out that I’ve noticed the biscuit they had for snack or ice cream treat that Nanny gave them after lunch. Really all I’m doing is distracting them long enough to give every tooth a good little polish.

Dentist role play

Even with all my dramatics, Emily sometimes still isn’t keen. I’m not sure how she could possible resist the role play but she does. However we have now discovered that if Mummy dentist asks for her to sing…Ariel style, then we have a big enough window of time to get in and get the job done. Often we are all warbling away like the little mermaid and I’m sure we could easily be snapped up as the next Von Trapp ensemble.


When both sets have been brushed, the girls have a chance to brush their own teeth. More often than not, they enjoy a bit of role reversal and Emily and Jessica dentist take the lead brushing teeth. Having your teeth scrubbed by a toddler is not the most pleasant experience and it’s surprising how sharp, a soft bristled brush can feel when it’s thrust into your gums. However, if it helps them to enjoy the routine a little more then I’m game.

Is brushing teeth a battle in your house? What tactics do you use? We are thinking of getting electric brushes for Christmas – if you have any recommendations or ones to steer clear of, I’d love to hear.



31 thoughts on “Brushing teeth: How to convince a toddler to let you.

  1. We had to make all sorts of funny noises to make teeth brushing fun for our littlest, she loves it now though! Great tips! Thanks so much for sharing with #Blogstravaganza xx

    1. Not sure how valuable this technique is for others but it works for us.

  2. So helpful! I have this battle constantly… thankfully not too bad at the minute as my 5yo is desperate for his teeth to start falling out so I’ve said that won’t happen until he brushes them regularly! #blogstravaganza

    1. Any chance for a bit of role play and my girls love it.

  3. Love her pepper pig pj’s where are they from? My 15 month old wont let me brush his teeth, he likes doing it himself but he doesnt do it properly xx #TriumphantTales

    1. They were a gift but think Waitrose. It’s such a battle isn’t it.

  4. I hate trying to brush my daughter’s teeth between trying to stop her squeezing toothpaste everywhere and getting her to actually open her mouth – you get the picture.
    Will be trying this one out tomorrow morning #AnythingGoes

    1. Good luck… hopefully you’ll have a laugh if nothing else.

  5. The past six months have been particularly bad for the increase in sugar. I need to get stricter with brushing.

  6. We do have to keep coming up with (seemingly ingenius) ideas for everything, don’t we?! But if it works, go with it I say… brilliant idea.

    1. Absolutely…anything for an easier life

  7. My two are usually quite good at letting me brush their teeth, we sing ‘this is the way we brush our teeth’ as we do it. But sometimes they do resist and I have tried ‘mummy dentist’ and it’s working wonderfully ๐Ÿ˜€ Thank you x

    1. Glad to be of service…the things we do ๐Ÿ˜

  8. We went through the same thing. At first Peachy had no problem with the tooth brushing concept and then suddenly she changed her mind one day. I usually give her something to play with or a book to look at and if that doesn’t work I proceed to making a total fool of myself. Thanks for joining #Blogstravaganza. Hope to see you again.

    1. Think it’s just part of this parenting lark that we have to act rediculous at least once a day

  9. My eldest is great at brushing his teeth thankfully. I think he’s seen us do it and wants to do the same. Am still yet to tackle our first dentist appointment though. I hate them. That and eye tests. Feels like you are on an exam that you are almost certainly going to fail!

    1. I prepped my girls loads for our first dentist appointment. I said they might put fingers in your mouth, touch/count teeth. They might put a mirror in. You might sit in a big chair. None of it happened. After my exam, the dentist just stood next to them and asked them to open their mouth for about 5 seconds. It’s not bad honestly.

  10. My 18 mth year old is rebelling so much with her teeth brushing…..need all of the tips I can get! Cx

  11. My mummy helps me brush my teeth, occasionally I do surprise her and do it myself it depends what mood I’m in! Popping over from #BloggerClubUK

    1. Well done Isabella, you’re doing great x

  12. Your house sounds like so much fun! Great that you’ve discovered a way to make this work as oral hygiene is so important
    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. My toddler has to have a brush baby as he won’t use a brush yet, but luckily he loves chewing the brush baby for now!

    1. That sounds great. I’ve not heard of a brush baby before.

  14. Ben is pretty good with brushing his teeth, but I think thats because it makes him laugh! We have three brushes and he has started to want to do it himself so its a “mummy do” “Ben do” and so on, whilst he holds one and I hold another!
    Thank you for sharing this with us at #TriumphantTales. I hope to see you back on Tuesday!

    1. Sounds good. I think multiple toothbrushes is a good idea.

  15. Ha ha, teeth brushing used to be a bloody nightmare in our house. The best thing we ever did was have the iPhone app where you dance whilst you brush, but also as she got a bit older an electric magic toothbrush went down a treat! #humpdaylinky

    1. Must look into the app. My girls would love that.

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