Somehow I've lucked out when it comes to brushing my youngest child's teeth. She's been willing to oblige whenever I brandish the toothbrush ever since she was tiny, which is NOT how I recall things going with her older brothers.
And if you've ever encountered the jaws-clamped-shut-tighter-than-a-pit-bull-terrier-on-a-very-bad-day response to waving a toothbrush in the general direction of your tot, you'll know exactly what I mean.
Try as I might, I just couldn't persuade my lads to open up to have their teeth brushed, and going to the dentist was an even bigger ordeal.
I don't know if being older and wiser makes me a more zen Mama and if that's why my youngest is so chilled out about keeping her pearly whites, well, pearly, or if she's just a more easy-going character and less prone to stage a face-off in the bathroom.
But I learned a few tricks when it comes to persuading a toddler to brush their teeth, so here they are...
1. Always brush your teeth first
Toddlers are like monkeys and you know the saying; monkey see, monkey do. If your tot sees you brushing your teeth, and witnesses that it doesn't in fact lead to bloodshed or the end of the world, she's more likely to deign to let you brush her own teeth. Which brings me to the next point…
2. Don't brush her teeth - let her do it herself
Yes, yes, I know you fear that she won't do a good enough job and you'll end up having to account to your dentist for why you entrusted oral hygiene to a two-year-old but in my experience a willing tot is a lot more efficient at brushing her teeth than you might imagine, and you can always give them the once over later. Heck, I've been known to brush my kids teeth while they were sleeping!
3. Approach with caution
If you do decide to take matters into your own hands and brush your child's teeth for them, try sitting them in your lap facing away from you, and reach around to brush from there. It's much less intimidating than having someone back you into a corner brandishing a toothbrush in front of your face, or so an expert once told me.
4. Try all the gimmicks you can
Sticker charts, clever flashing toothbrushes - whatever works. Personally I'm a fan of the Firefly one minute timer toothbrushes for enticing kids to clean their teeth but basically try everything when it comes to gadgets and gimmicks to help children with brushing their teeth, and go with whatever works. I also love this toothpaste dispenser and this cute toothbrush timer.
5. Start early
It might be too late for some but there's no substitute for starting early when it comes to brushing teeth so if you've got a tot who doesn't even show signs of having any teeth to brush, invest in a banana brush - it's brilliant for teething tots to chew on - and start the teeth cleaning fun now.