Skip to content

Health & Parenting

Font Size

Getting Children to Brush Their Teeth - Topic Overview

When your child's teeth first come in, you should clean them with a soft cloth or gauze pad. As more teeth come in, brush your child's teeth with a soft brush. Because too much fluoride can be toxic and can stain a child's teeth, ask your doctor or dentist if it's okay to use fluoride toothpaste. At 3 or 4 years of age, your child should be able to learn to brush on his or her own with your help. By 8 years of age, your child will probably no longer need your help. It is important that your child make brushing a habit, as this limits tooth decay and helps prevent cavities.

Although some children quickly learn to brush their teeth, others do not. If you are having trouble getting your child to brush, try some of the following suggestions.

  • My, what big teeth you have! Many children have a favorite stuffed animal. Use the animal to explain why it is important to brush. Then, have your child brush the animal's teeth after brushing his or her own teeth. This may also work with a favorite doll or action figure.
  • Monkey see, monkey do. Brush your teeth together with your child and do it in stages. You wet your brush, then your child wets his or her brush. You put toothpaste on your brush, then your child does. You brush your left-hand lower teeth, then your child takes a turn. Follow this pattern until you finish. You can make this more fun by making silly faces or using funny brush strokes that your child imitates. You can also switch roles and let your child lead the brushing.
  • Time is on my side. Many children respond well to using an hourglass timer or an egg timer. Find a timer that lasts for as long as you feel is necessary, and have your child brush until the time is up. Humming a favorite song while brushing can also keep your child brushing longer.
  • Water fountain fun. Some parents put in a "water fountain" type faucet. Many children think it's fun to brush using one of these.
  • Sticks to a card, not your teeth. To reward your child for doing well, make a form that he or she can put a sticker on after brushing. Use a variety of stickers.
    1|2
    Next Article:

    Getting Children to Brush Their Teeth Topics

    Today on WebMD

    Girl holding up card with BMI written
    Is your child at a healthy weight?
    toddler climbing
    What happens in your child’s second year.
     
    father and son with laundry basket
    Get your kids to help around the house.
    boy frowning at brocolli
    Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
     
    mother and daughter talking
    Tool
    child brushing his teeth
    Slideshow
     
    Sipping hot tea
    Slideshow
    Young woman holding lip at dentists office
    Video
     
    Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
    Article
    rl with friends
    fitSlideshow
     
    tissue box
    Quiz
    Child with adhd
    Slideshow