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How to Get Kids to Brush Their Teeth

Getting kids to brush their teeth can be a challenge—and sometimes feel like a battle. A regular tooth-brushing routine is a healthy habit that is essential to combatting tooth decay—and supporting lifelong health for your little one. Our dental team partners with parents to educate children on the importance of good brushing and proper techniques to keep teeth and gums clean.

What is a “good” tooth-brushing routine?

As soon as your child has that first tooth, brushing should begin. Before your child has that first tooth, take a damp piece of cloth or gauze and gently wipe their baby’s gums after feedings, or at least twice a day.

From age two, brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day for two minutes (2X2) is important. For young kids, focus on making brushing a fun and positive experience.

Be sure your child has a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste to get started. Ask your dentist how much toothpaste you should use each time. Then, proceed in a circular pattern from left to right, top to bottom in the mouth for two minutes. Here is a helpful video to get started.

But, knowing how to brush is only part of it—check out the tips below to learn how you can take brushing from “no way!” to “twice a day!”

Make it a Family Activity

Whenever possible, make brushing time a family time each day. By modeling how to brush teeth well, you’re showing your little ones how to be healthy for a lifetime. This allows you to demonstrate the right way to brush every day—and to see how your kiddo’s brushing is progressing!

Make it Fun

Songs, games, and more! There’s no shortage of videos and songs to help encourage regular brushing, find a song your little one likes to sing/hum that lasts two minutes. Humming ‘Happy Birthday’ or the alphabet song twice while brushing can do the trick—or use one of these fun videos.

Make it Two Full Minutes

In just two minutes, twice a day, your kids can establish healthy tooth-brushing habits! Make sure your children brush for the full two minutes. Use your phone or a timer to keep time. Or, stop by one of our locations and ask for your complimentary brushing timer—we’re committed to raising a generation of better brushers!

Set Up Rewards & Track Progress

Keep track of your child’s brushing—and flossing—with a simple chart that you post over the bathroom sink, and offer a non-monetary rewards for successfully brushing two times per day for two minutes. Especially when you’re trying to establish these healthy habits, rewards can be your friend!

Get the Right Tools for the Job

These days kids have hundreds of colors, characters and flavors to choose from in the dental aisle or your neighborhood store. Let your kids pick out their own toothbrush and toothpaste flavor, so they have a say in their brushing routine.

Finally, make sure your child can see the mirror when brushing even if it takes some steps or a chair. Setting your little one up in front of a mirror will help improve brushing technique and make them more likely to brush longer!

Leaders in providing high-quality and compassionate dental, vision, and orthodontic services to underserved children. Our providers are general dentists who treat pediatric patients.

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