What To Do If Your Child Refuses To Use A Toothbrush

If your child absolutely hates to brush his or her teeth, don't get frustrated. Instead, take a good look at your child's toothbrush. The handle of your child's toothbrush may be too thick for him or her to use comfortably. The bristles of the toothbrush might be too soft on your little one's gums. Your child may refuse to use the toothbrush if he or she experiences any of these issues. But you can make your little one feel better about brushing his or her teeth. Use these tips below to find out why your child refuses to use a toothbrush.

Examine The Handle Of The Toothbrush: Is It Too Thick?  

Many helpful resources recommend that kids who are younger than 7-8 years old use a toothbrush with a short, thick handle for their dental care needs. The sources consider this type of brushing utensil easier to grip, hold and use by small children. However, even with these features, your child can still have problems holding his or her toothbrush.

There are a number of reasons why your child feels uncomfortable holding a toothbrush with a thick handle. For instance, some children develop muscle cramps in their hands when they hold objects that force them to widen their fingers more than they're physically capable of doing. Other kids have trouble closing their hands around large objects because they haven't learned to control their motor skills yet.

If your child is old enough to verbally articulate his or her feelings, ask your little one to tell you how his or her hands feel when he or she holds the toothbrush. You can discuss these revelations with your child's pediatric dentist. The dentist may offer a lasting solution for your child's problem. In some cases, the dentist may prescribe or order specially-made toothbrushes that fit your little one's hands perfectly.

Until you see the dentist, you can remedy this issue temporarily at home by exchanging your child's thick-handled toothbrush with a thin-handled toothbrush. Then, manipulate the handle with a material that increases its thickness without overwhelming your little one's hands.

For instance:

  • Wrap the thin handle of the new toothbrush with elastic or fabric to gradually increase the thickness, then secure the material to the handle with clear tape
  • Place multiple, wide rubber bands around the thin handle of the toothbrush
  • Wrap the toothbrush handle with plastic wrap

Have your child hold the toothbrush in each hand after you place or wrap the materials around the handle. You can add or remove material to increase or decrease the thickness based on your child's responses. In addition to the handle, your child may not feel comfortable with the bristles of his or her toothbrush.

Look At The Bristles Of The Toothbrush: Are They Too Soft?

Most children's toothbrushes come with soft bristles that protect the gums from abrasions, cuts and other types of irritations. But if your child doesn't like the soft texture of the bristles because they tickle his or her gums, tongue and soft, inner cheeks, your child may skip brushing altogether.

You can make brushing fun again by introducing your child to a toothbrush that has soft bristles on the outside of the head and firmer bristles in the center of the head. The soft outside bristles will still prevent soft-tissue injuries like those mentioned above, and the firm bristles will reduce the tickling feelings your little one dislikes. To find a brush that works well for your child, try purchasing a few cheap toothbrushes. You can always use the toothbrushes your child doesn't like when he or she gets older.

Keeping up your child's dental health protected is a number one priority. If you need help getting your child to brush his or her teeth, consult with a pediatric dentist for assistance.