8 tips for getting little kids to brush their teeth – properly!

Girl brushing teeth

Making sure your little one brushes their teeth can be a pain – they usually either run away or just suck the toothpaste off the brush; making you want to skip this twice daily nightmare routine altogether. Even though they will eventually lose their baby teeth, it’s still important to take care of them, so we’ve got eight tips to help make it all a bit easier.

1. Always supervise

Dentists don’t recommend children brush their teeth by themselves until they’re eight years old, so even if your preschooler is super confident and independent, be sure to supervise them as they might start slacking off. It can take kids a while to get the hang of it when they’re little, so make brushing something you do together and give them the choice of brushing their teeth themselves or you – and if they don’t do it properly then it’s mum’s turn.

2. Get app-y

There are lots of different tooth brushing apps out there for your smartphone and tablet which can help get children excited about the act of brushing their teeth. Macleans Nurdle Time is a good one and there is also a new one from The Wiggles. Most apps have a cute song and video that kids can watch while brushing their teeth, which tells them what to do and makes sure they brush for a full two minutes. Children may want to play the apps outside of brushing time too, as many have other games and features to help foster a feeling of fun around tooth brushing.

3. Buy new brushes

Try buying a new toothbrush or two, even better if your child gets to choose it themselves. They might be more inclined to clean their teeth if Frozen or Mickey Mouse is on the brush, and you can also try different types such as electric ones or brushes that change colour.

baby brushing teeth

4. Use a timer

If you’re not keen on using a digital device to time your child’s tooth brushing, why not try an old fashioned timer like an hourglass! Your little one will love turning it over and watching the grains of sand fall while they brush and it can help keep them focused.

5. Don’t use paste

Some kids can’t stand the taste of toothpaste – too ‘spicy’ or ‘minty’ are popular complaints. It’s the act of brushing itself which is the most important part of removing plaque build up and food particles, so just get them to use water instead. Then once they’re comfortable and capable at brushing their teeth, slowly introduce very small amounts of toothpaste.

mum daughter brushing teeth

6. Take turns

If you’re brushing your teeth at the same time as your child, they might be more keen to copy what you’re doing. Another good idea is taking turns, or getting them to ‘brush’ your teeth while you do theirs.

7. Scare tactics

Educating your kids about what happens when you don’t brush your teeth properly is a good scare tactic. Show them pictures of decayed or missing teeth and explain that the Tooth Fairy won’t accept rotten or yellow teeth. Children are all motivated by different things so this might work for those kids looking forward to their future Tooth Fairy visit and gold coin reward.

8. Bribes and rewards

When all else fails, bribe. It doesn’t have to be anything big; stickers are great for when they reach the full two minutes or otherwise use incentives such as letting them choose their own breakfast in the morning. Just be careful about offering sweets as rewards – it’s counterproductive considering we’re trying to look after their teeth and not help them rot!

What tips do you have for getting your kids to brush their teeth?

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