How to get your children to brush their teeth

Whether first thing in a morning or just before bedtime, making sure your children are doing a decent job at cleaning their teeth can be a challenge for any parent.

Though its largely preventable, tooth decay remains the most common chronic disease among children aged 6 – 19. On top of this, poor oral hygiene has been linked to everything from speech delays to dental pain and infections to diabetes.


Contributing factors to poor oral health in young children

Bottles that are used for milk and water purpose during the day should be limited at the age of 1, as this can affect teeth formation and tooth decay. Similarly, dummies should be limited to night times or reduced so help support oral health and speech and language.

Snacks such as raisins, grapes and snack bars are high in sugar as well as many other foods and snacks marketed for children. Parents should remain cautious what hidden sugars are in certain foods. Water and milk should be the only source to drink.

We’ve put together a 4 tips to make brushing and flossing fun and part of your child’s daily routine.


Start Early

Dentists recommend starting dental care even before your child’s first tooth arrives by wiping down their gums nightly with a soft, damp cloth. Switch to a toothbrush when their teeth start to come in and schedule a visit to the dentist by the first birthday, regardless of how many teeth they have.


Set an example

Children learn through copying those around them. If your child regularly sees you brushing your teeth, they’re more likely to want to brush their own. You could even brush your teeth together and set them up their own brushing station.


Make it fun

At any age, we need to make sure we’re brushing at least twice a day for 2 minutes a time.

Two minutes can feel like a lifetime for our kids, so try getting creative with brushing to make it more fun and less tedious.


  • Set a fun, colourful timer or purchase a brush that times for them
  • Play their favourite song or find ‘Teeth Brushing songs’ on YouTube for them to brush their teeth to
  • Offer incentives. If they brush for the full two minutes, they can choose what book to read at bedtime or choose the movie at movie night
  • Create a reward system with a sticker calendar or gold stars
  • Role play with a story – maybe aliens have invaded their teeth and they need to defend by brushing
  • Have them brush their favourite toys teeth whilst you clean theirs


Give them a choice

To encourage them, have a range of brushes, toothpaste, brushing songs and brushing games. Letting them choose their own routine adds to the excitement of simple daily tasks and as a result, they’re more likely to brush without a fuss.

Creating a fun routine at home will ensure your child develops good hygiene habits as they grow.

Change4Life website is full of useful tips for oral health and support. You may find that the biggest challenge when it comes to teeth brushing isn’t getting your child to brush their teeth but avoiding certain foods that could affect oral health.

We recommend that children under 8 are always supervised as they do not have the skills to complete this task alone.

Good Luck.