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Why Your Toddler Won’t Open Their Mouth to Brush Teeth and How to Overcome It

Keeping a toddler’s teeth clean is crucial for their overall health. However, it’s not uncommon for parents to struggle with the scenario of a toddler who won’t open their mouth to brush teeth. This can make a simple bedtime routine a battle of wills. In this post, we explore the reasons behind this behaviour and provide practical solutions to make teeth brushing a fun and seamless process.

Why Your Toddler Refuses to Open Their Mouth

Toddlers refusing to open their mouths for teeth brushing can be attributed to a number of factors such as:

  • Fear: Toddlers may associate brushing with discomfort or pain.
  • Independence: Toddlers love asserting their independence, and refusing to brush their teeth is one way to do it.
  • Sensitivity: Some toddlers have more sensitive gums and might find the process uncomfortable.
  • Dislike of toothpaste: The taste or texture of toothpaste can be off-putting for some toddlers.

Solutions to Help Your Toddler Open Their Mouth for Brushing

Here are a few strategies to encourage your child to open their mouth for teeth brushing:

  1. Make it fun: Turn brushing time into a game or story.
  2. Give them control: Let your toddler choose their toothbrush or toothpaste.
  3. Set an example: Brush your teeth together to show them how it’s done.
  4. Use a reward system: Reward your toddler for a job well done to encourage good brushing habits.
  5. Patience and consistency: Remain patient and consistent in your approach.

Understanding Your Toddler’s Resistance to Teeth Brushing

Why Won’t My Toddler Brush Their Teeth?

Toddlers may resist teeth brushing due to fear, sensitivity, a desire for independence, or dislike of the toothpaste’s taste or texture.

Is It Typical for an Autistic Toddler to Refuse to Brush Teeth?

Yes, autistic children often have heightened sensitivities and may resist brushing due to the texture or taste of the toothpaste or the sensation of the brush.

Techniques for Encouraging Toddlers to Brush Their Teeth

How Can I Get My Toddler to Let Me Brush Their Teeth?

Make teeth brushing fun by turning it into a game or a story, set an example by brushing your teeth together, use a reward system, and always maintain patience and consistency.

What to Do if a 2-Year-Old Refuses to Brush Teeth?

Try allowing them to choose their own toothbrush or toothpaste, demonstrating brushing on a toy, or singing a fun brushing song.

Is It OK to Force a Toddler to Brush Their Teeth?

Forcing may create negative associations with teeth brushing. Instead, try to make the process enjoyable and rewarding to encourage cooperation.

Important Aspects of Toddler Teeth Brushing

How Many Times a Day Should I Brush My Toddler’s Teeth?

It’s recommended to brush your toddler’s teeth twice a day – in the morning and before bedtime.

How Many Minutes Should a Toddler Brush Their Teeth?

On average, toddlers should brush their teeth for about two minutes.

Should a 2-Year-Old Brush Their Own Teeth?

While it’s good to allow a 2-year-old to practice brushing their teeth, parents should always do a follow-up brush to ensure thorough cleaning.

Should I Brush My Toddler’s Teeth Before or After Breakfast?

Brushing should ideally be done after breakfast to remove food particles and prevent plaque build-up.

What Kind of Toothbrush is Best for an 18-Month-Old?

Choose a soft-bristled toothbrush designed for toddlers. Some have thick handles which are easier for small hands to grip.

Consequences of Poor Oral Hygiene and Prevention

What Happens if a Child Never Brushes Their Teeth?

Lack of proper oral hygiene can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and other serious dental problems.

What Are Early Signs of Dental Trouble?

Early signs include sensitivity to hot and cold, persistent bad breath, swollen or bleeding gums, and difficulty chewing or biting.

Is It Neglect to Not Brush Your Child’s Teeth?

Not encouraging good oral hygiene can lead to significant dental problems for your child, so it is important to make this a regular part of your child’s routine.

How Do You Reverse Poor Oral Hygiene?

Poor oral hygiene can be improved with regular and thorough brushing, using appropriate fluoride toothpaste, and regular dental check-ups.

Addressing Specific Age-Related Concerns

What to Do if an 18-Month-Old or a 1-Year-Old Won’t Brush Teeth?

Try introducing fun brushing apps or songs, or use a toothbrush that features their favorite cartoon character to make the process more appealing.

How Often Should a 1.5-Year-Old Brush Their Teeth?

Like older toddlers, a 1.5-year-old should also have their teeth brushed twice a day.

Additional Points to Consider

Are There Alternatives to Brushing a Toddler’s Teeth?

While brushing is the best method, alternatives like dental wipes or specially designed chewable brushes can be used temporarily.

Why Do My Toddler’s Teeth Hurt When Brushing?

Pain during brushing could indicate a cavity or gum issue, and it’s best to consult with a pediatric dentist.

Should an 18-Month-Old Use Toothpaste? How Much?

Yes, an 18-month-old should use a small smear of fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a grain of rice) for brushing.

Can I Floss My 18-Month-Old’s Teeth?

You should start to floss your child’s teeth as soon as two teeth touch each other, which can be as early as 18 months.

Can a 1-Year-Old Have Candy Floss?

Dentists recommend avoiding candy floss until later in childhood to prevent tooth decay and establish healthy eating habits.

How Can Help

While the importance of dental hygiene can’t be overstated, what’s equally important is ensuring that your toddler has a smooth and routine bedtime. A child who is upset about brushing their teeth may have disrupted sleep patterns, which can affect their overall mood and development.

At, we understand the intricacies of baby sleep patterns and the factors that can disturb them, including bedtime routines like brushing teeth. Our team of sleep experts provides effective strategies to help you navigate these challenges, ensuring your toddler sleeps soundly after a peaceful bedtime routine.

By applying our strategies, not only can you help your toddler open their mouth to brush teeth, but you can also improve their sleep quality. After all, a well-rested child is a happy, healthy child. Visit to learn more about our unique approach to baby sleep and other parenting hurdles.


When your toddler won’t open their mouth to brush teeth, it can make a simple routine into a challenging task. But with understanding, patience, and the right techniques, you can turn this hurdle into an opportunity for teaching and bonding. Remember, is here to support you in ensuring your toddler has healthy oral hygiene habits and a peaceful, restful sleep.

7 thoughts on “Why Your Toddler Won’t Open Their Mouth to Brush Teeth and How to Overcome It”

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